The Latest: WH declines to condemn aide’s McCain remark

FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2017, file photo Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., receives the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) –The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Sen. John McCain (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

The White House is refusing to condemn a staffer who said during a closed-door meeting that Arizona Sen. John McCain’s opinion “doesn’t matter” because “he’s dying anyway.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the aide, Kelly Sadler, still works for the White House. Sanders is refusing to otherwise weigh in on the comments or condemn them.

Sanders tells reporters she’s “not going to validate a leak out of an internal staff meeting one way or the other.” She did not mention McCain’s name.

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McCain’s wife and daughter Meghan have both condemned the comments.

The White House said Thursday night in a statement: “we respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”

Sanders says the White House has respect for all Americans.

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2 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says a White House official’s comments about Sen. John McCain showed when “decency would hit rock bottom with this administration.”

Biden is responding to the dismissal of McCain’s opposition to President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee. The aide said “it doesn’t matter” because “he’s dying anyway.” That’s according to two people, who were in the room at the time and who spoke to The Associated Press

Biden, a Democrat, says McCain in a genuine hero and “he deserves better — so much better.”

Biden says that given the White House’s trail of disrespect toward McCain and others, the aide is not an exception to the rule, but the “epitome of it.”

Biden also says children learn from example and the lingering question is whose example it will be. He says “I am certain it will be John’s.”

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6:15 a.m.

A White House official made what some saw as an insensitive comment about ailing Arizona Sen. John McCain at a staff meeting Thursday.

Kelly Sadler was discussing McCain’s opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director Gina Haspel when she allegedly claimed, “It doesn’t matter” because “he’s dying anyway.”

That’s according to two people in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door meeting.

The White House did not dispute the remark, but said in a statement, “we respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”

The Hill newspaper first reported the comment.

Sadler is a special assistant to the president. She did not respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.