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After Criticism, White House Re-Lowers Flags to Half-Staff Following John McCain’s Death

After facing bi-partisan criticism for failing to adequately honor the death of Sen. John McCain by raising its flags to full-staff, President Trump has ordered the White House to re-lower its flags to half-staff.

According to reporting by ABC News, the White House has released a statement from the president on McCain’s passing, Trump’s first comments on the senator’s death. “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to thy the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment,” the statement reads, in part.

Aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer had requested all government flags fly at half-staff until sunset next Sunday, when McCain will be buried in Maryland, AP reports. Following McCain’s death on Saturday, the White House had flown its flags at half staff on Sunday, and then raised them to full staff minutes after midnight on Monday morning.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had some sharp words to share this morning on Twitter, saying, “Senator McCain was twice the public elected official Donald Trump will ever be.” New York’s flags remain at half-staff.

The American Legion wrote a letter to Trump, urging for the White House flags to be lowered.

“Senator John McCain was an American hero and cherished member of The American Legion,” read the letter, signed by Denise Rohan, the Legion’s National Commander. “On the behalf of The American Legion’s two million wartime veterans, I strongly urge you to make an appropriate presidential proclamation noting Senator McCain’s death and legacy of service to our nation, and that our nation’s flag be half-staffed through his internment.”

Others are calling the White House’s decision “needless antagonism” and a “disgrace.”

McCain’s family, however, are focused on their lost loved one. “There really is no room in the McCain family today to focus on anything but him,” said Rick Davis, family spokesman, in response to the White House flags, TicToc by Bloomberg reports.

The U.S. Flag Code states the flag should be lowered “on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.” But when Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy died in 2009, AP said that President Barack Obama had White House flags flown at half-staff for five days.

McCain, a six-term Arizona senator who died at 81 after a long battle with brain cancer, was widely respected for his history as a Vietnam war hero and his commitment to his moral code over party alliance. Despite this, he had long-running feud with President Donald Trump: the two were often critical of one another, with McCain attacking Trump’s leadership and Trump questioning McCain’s heroism as a prisoner of war for five years.

Speaking to reporters Monday morning about a trade deal with Mexico, Trump chose to ignore questions concerning McCain, ABC News reports.

According to The Washington Post, the flags on Capitol Hill remain at half-staff.

Update: This story has been updated from its original version to note that the White House has issued a proclamation in McCain’s honor and re-lowered its flags to half-staff.