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McCain's name is in the news again this week after White House aide, Kelly Sadler, commented that "it doesn't matter; he's dying anyway", during a closed-door session with around two dozen communication officers at the White House early Thursday, while they discussed the ailing senator's opposition to Haspel. McCain's long-distance rejection of Central Intelligence Agency director nominee Gina Haspel's history with torture goaded former Vice President Dick Cheney into a fresh debate over waterboarding and other now-banned interrogation techniques.

"They are terrible", Mulvaney said of the comments on Cavuto Live. She confirmed that Sadler still works at the White House.

Mercedes Schlapp, the White House director of strategic communications, said Friday during a White House meeting that she stood by Sadler, Axios reported.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders on Friday refused to confirm or deny what Sadler had said.

"People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration", former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in a statement.

"I certainly have respect for numerous things that he's accomplished, and so much respect for his family", said Sarah Palin, McCain's former running mate.

"There is not a tone set here", Sanders said.

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McCain's wife, Cindy, and daughter Meghan both quickly condemned the comments. "We have a respect for all Americans". "I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in where that would be acceptable and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job", she said.

Sen. McCain, a Navy pilot who was beaten in captivity during the Vietnam War, has urged his fellow senators to reject Haspel.

The fallout dominated yesterday's White House press briefing and had some veterans and a U.S. Naval Academy graduate steaming. "And that's just disgusting", she said according to a report by Axios on Saturday.

A senior White House official, too, said that for now, Sadler was still employed with the administration.

Gerson said Biden stood in honorably for McCain in March, when the academy named the Arizona senator one of its distinguished graduates. Charles Payne, the Fox host who interviewed McInerney, apologized Thursday for not challenging the "Songbird John" claim. "That tells you all you need to know about me and him", Graham said.

Trump, for his part, once mocked McCain's war service, saying during the presidential campaign that "I like people that weren't captured". Independent accounts of McCain's time in North Vietnamese captivity do not include any suggestion that he offered any material information to his captors, and McCain says the same.