Anderson Cooper railed against the White House administration for its seemingly glib responses to an aide who insulted Senator John McCain's ailing health, slamming administration officials for refusing to issue a public apology during his Monday show.
"Let's call this what it is," Cooper told viewers during Anderson Cooper 360. "The White House has obviously been instructed not to apologize for something it clearly should just apologize for and move on. Now, the president's staff and supporters are running around, throwing smoke screens."
He continued, "They’re trying to make it about leaks, about an internal matter, and all common sense and common decency are simply ignored.”
Cooper then went on to tell viewers that his team could only find one public apology issued by President Donald Trump, given after the infamous Access Hollywood tape. The CNN host then contrasted it with a very long list of times Trump has demanded apologies from people—particularly the media and political opponents—and noted the discrepancy.
The controversy started last week when White House special assistant Kelly Sadler was reported as having said McCain's vote against Trump CIA pick Gina Haspel was irrelevant because "he's dying anyway" in a closed-door meeting in the White House. The conversation subsequently leaked, and its contents angered Republicans and Democrats alike. The White House did not immediately return Newsweek's request for comment.
Although Sadler called McCain's daughter last Thursday to apologize for the remarks, no public apology has been issued from either the White House or Sadler. Meghan McCain told her audience at The View that she expected and was told that a public apology was in the offing.
When pressed about the issue, White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah indicated that the matter was closed, saying it had been dealt with "internally" and declining to comment further. Prominent conservative figures, including CPAC leader Matt Schlapp, have since suggested that Sadler has been victimized by the media in the aftermath of her comment. Meanwhile, Trump has positioned the issue as a problem with leaks in the White House rather than one of proper etiquette.
"The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible," Trump tweeted Monday afternoon. "With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are."
Trump is notorious for refusing to issue apologies, even when his supporters argue that one is warranted. The White House nor Trump apologized for disparaging remarks made about Haiti. He has similarly refused to apologize or condemn some members of his base following a White Nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead. He also declined to issue a direct apology after insinuating that McCain—who spent about five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam—was not a war hero.
Journalists and TV personalities have repeatedly asked Trump about his philosophy on apologies and his reticence to say "I'm sorry." For the most part, he has joked with hosts in response or suggested that he hasn't yet ever needed to give one.
“I totally think apologizing is a great thing, but you have to be wrong,” Trump said during an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show. “I will absolutely apologize in the sometime hopefully distant future if I’m ever wrong.”
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