- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 13, 2018

A former top adviser to President Trump said Sunday that Sen. John McCain isn’t immune to criticism and has consistently been a thorn in the White House’s side since Mr. Trump came to power.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union program, Michael Caputo, who served as a communications adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, pushed back against the notion the White House is out of line for criticizing Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican and a frequent critic of the administration.

Mr. McCain’s ongoing tension with the White House reached new heights last week when Kelly Sadler, an administration communications aide, said that Mr. McCain’s political positions don’t matter because he’s “dying anyway.” The comment drew harsh rebukes from both sides of the aisle, but Mr. Caputo countered that the Arizona senator, now battling brain cancer, is a fair target.

“McCain has for the longest time been a combative senator. He’s worked very hard against this president. He’s done things to undermine this president,” Mr. Caputo said. “You have to understand that not everybody on this planet loves John McCain. But at this point in time we all need to step back and let his family and the senator live in peace.”

“Politics ain’t bean bag,” he continued. “This is a very difficult arena and John McCain has been out there punching with the best of them.”

Mr. Caputo did concede that the comment about Mr. McCain’s death “was a joke made in bad taste.”

Among other clashes with the administration, Mr. McCain cast the deciding vote last year to kill a White House-backed plan to repeal Obamacare. More recently, Mr. McCain also has come out against the president’s pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, adding uncertainty to her prospects for confirmation.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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