There was "discomfort" during a closed-door White House meeting of communications staffers Thursday when special assistant Kelly Sadler made light of Sen. John McCain's terminal illness, sources tell the Hill. Sadler, discussing the Republican senator's opposition to Gina Haspel becoming CIA director, said: "It doesn't matter, he's dying anyway," the insiders say. Two sources confirmed to the AP that Sadler made the insensitive remark, leaving them "shocked and stunned." The White House didn't dispute reports of the comments, but it 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."
McCain, 81, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last year and is being treated in Arizona. Wife Cindy McCain fired back at Sadler, tweeting: "May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren." But Sadler wasn't the only one making offensive remarks about McCain on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. Fox Business Network host Charles Payne apologized after a guest, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, claimed that McCain's time as a POW in Vietnam showed that torture works. "That's why they call him 'Songbird John,'" McInerney said, though there's no evidence that McCain betrayed his country. Payne tweeted an apology for the guest's "false and derogatory remark." (McCain doesn't want President Trump at his funeral.)