SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, issued a written apology Tuesday to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for saying “it’s ridiculous” for McCain to request that President Donald Trump not attend his funeral.
“This morning I sent a note apologizing to Sen. McCain for comments I made yesterday about his health and about funeral plans and the president. I should not have made those comments, and I extended my love and support,” Hatch said in a statement.
Hatch had told reporters Monday he thought “it’s ridiculous” that McCain, who is battling brain cancer, apparently has decided he didn’t want Trump at the funeral service to be held in Washington’s National Cathedral.
But Hatch also said the decision was McCain’s to make.
“Well, he’s the president of the United States and he’s a very good man. But it’s up to (McCain). I think John should have his own wishes fulfilled with regard to who attends the funeral,” Hatch told Politico on Tuesday.
He also said he didn’t expect McCain to return to the Senate.
Hatch’s comments drew criticism Tuesday from McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, co-host of “The View,” who said on the ABC show, “I’d like everybody to take a collective breath and chill out on my dad for a second — especially Orrin Hatch.”
Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock said the senator “was responding to questions from reporters when he made the comments, and acknowledged to Sen. McCain that he should not have engaged in speculation or shared opinions on something so personal.”
According to reports, plans for McCain’s funeral include having Vice President Mike Pence represent the White House, and eulogies delivered by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
There’s been much friction between Trump and McCain, such as the now-president’s claim during the 2016 campaign that McCain, who spent five years as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war, wasn’t a hero because he’d been captured.
Hatch, who is retiring after first being elected to the Senate in 1976, has been one of the president’s most vocal supporters in the GOP and is credited with getting Trump to agree to downsize two national monuments in Utah.