While there were some overtly political statements targeting President Trump at the memorial service for Senator John McCain at the National Cathedral on Saturday, much more of the service was focused on McCain’s life. And since the liberal media is the liberal media, they wanted to opine ad nauseam about how President Trump wasn’t invited. But during Sunday’s This Week, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie scolded his colleagues for putting the focus on Trump instead of McCain.
After letting ABC White House correspondent Cecilia Vega and commentator Cokie Roberts prattle on about Trump’s absence from the service, fill-in host Martha Raddatz looked to Christie to talk about Trump’s golfing during the service and if he “understands the significance of the passing of John McCain?”
“Sure, I think he understands the significance of the passing of John McCain, and quite frankly, I think that's what we should all be focused on,” Christie scolded them. “This is part of the problem with Washington, D.C. It's the commentary we have been hearing for the last 24 hours or so since then, is all about the rebukes supposedly of President Trump rather than the life of John McCain.”
Christie pointed out that during the show’s opening there were few clips from the service talking about McCain’s life. Taking it on himself to remember adequately, he recalled how McCain was a true friend and was there for him during controversy. “That's the guy I remember. That's the guy who they were talking about yesterday in that cathedral,” he stressed. “And quite frankly, I think the tribute to John McCain, should be us talking about that. Next week we can talk about the political ramifications.”
All of this started shortly after Raddatz introduced her panel. Right out of the gate she asked Roberts if thick Republicans were going to get McCain’s message and continue pushing it. “It's hard because that -- it is so divided, and it was a moment,” Roberts huffed before going on to fawn over the politicization of the ceremony by former presidents Bush and Obama, and the Senator’s daughter Meghan McCain.
“The message was squarely aimed at President Trump. Do you think he received that message, and how do you think it was received,” Raddatz wondered to Vega.
The White House correspondent boasted about how the service “upstaged” Trump. “Everyone who is anyone in Washington except the commander in chief, the current sitting president of this country, was inside that church,” Vega gloated before joking about how she didn’t need to talk to sources to know it angered the President.
Trying the reframe what was obviously political, Vega tried to claim it was only Trump’s base that saw Meghan McCain’s comments that way. “If you saw Twitter yesterday, there were people who are large Trump supporters who came out against what Meghan McCain said and saw this as political,” she whined. But Roberts was more honest, saying: “It was political. It was emotional, but it was political.”
That was exactly what Christie was talking about. Before Raddatz shifted away from him, he exclaimed that putting Trump in the service in the way the media was doing was against his wishes:
I understand that [Trump wasn’t invited], and that was John McCain's desire, and his desire should be respected. People who are not invited to a funeral shouldn't show up. That's not showing respect to the deceased. That's showing disrespect to the deceased.
Of course, there was no mention of how most of McCain's former campaign staffers who work at NBC and MSNBC were not invited to the service either.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
September 2, 2018
9:06:15 a.m. Eastern
MARTHA RADDATZ: Cokie, I want to start with you. That was such a powerful rebuke by Meghan McCain, our colleague here at ABC News on The View. It really was as if John McCain was speaking through Meghan. Will that message echo through the chamber? Especially on the Republican side?
COKIE ROBERTS: It's hard because that -- it is so divided, and it was a moment. John McCain as you said, orchestrated whole thing. And he had Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, the leaders of the Senate sitting together, Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan, the leaders of the House sitting together. But then they go back and they have their own constituents to worry about, and it's very difficult – very difficult to see them coming together, but the rebuke was so strong. I mean, it wasn't just Meghan. It was George Bush saying that our common humanity knows no borders and Barack Obama talking about the politics that pretends to be brave and tough is, in fact, born of fear. I mean, it was just -- all through that ceremony, we were aware of the person who wasn't there.
RADDATZ: Exactly, Cecilia. The message was squarely aimed at President Trump. Do you think he received that message, and how do you think it was received?
CECILIA VEGA: Well, he was at the golf course as you said, tweeting throughout most of the service. Look. There is no other way to say this other than President Trump was upstaged yesterday. Everyone who is anyone in Washington except the commander in chief, the current sitting president of this country, was inside that church. I don't need to know him or talk to my sources in the White House to know that that did not go over well with him.
I think the reception is twofold. We saw John Kelly, the chief of staff, right there towards the front of that church; we saw Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis both former Marine Corps generals. They subscribed to the same belief system that John McCain did. Service, country before party. A lifetime of service, a dedication to that role. We know that Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, was essentially cringing, sitting on pins and needles this week when the President gave his interview with Bloomberg and started to talk about John McCain.
And I think she was fearful that he was going to go there again, and embarrass this White House as many people had said that this White House was embarrassed in the middle of the flag controversy, and the president refusing, reportedly, to release a laudatory statement about John McCain. But look, President Trump is playing to his base on this one. If you saw Twitter yesterday, there were people who are large Trump supporters who came out against what Meghan McCain said and saw this as political. I don't think this is going to change. And I think the reception—
ROBERTS: Well, it was political. It was political. It was emotional, but it was political.
RADDATZ: And Governor Christie, let's go to you here. The President was golfing, or heading for the golf course just as Meghan McCain was speaking. Do you think he understands the significance of the passing of John McCain?
CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sure, I think he understands the significance of the passing of John McCain, and quite frankly, I think that's what we should all be focused on. This is part of the problem with Washington, D.C. It's the commentary we have been hearing for the last 24 hours or so since then, is all about the rebukes supposedly of President Trump rather than the life of John McCain. And the fact is there were extraordinary tributes yesterday that we didn't hear any clips of before we all started speaking here.
Extraordinary things that were said by President Bush 43, by President Obama, by Joe Lieberman who didn't rebuke President Trump at all yesterday in his remarks and focused on his friend, John McCain and the extraordinary man that he was, the extraordinary sense of humor he had. And his toughness, and his temper, and I can tell you as a friend of John McCain's this is a guy who when he was your friend, he was your friend.
I talked about this last week, that when Bridgegate first came onto the scene in January of '14, and the media was absolutely savaging me without any evidence of me having done anything wrong, it was John McCain who picked up the phone and called me two days afterwards and said to me, “I have one question for you. I have known you a long time. Did you have anything to do with this?” I said, “absolutely not, John.” He said to me, “good. Tell your people to get me on every TV show they can get me on, because I'm going to defend your character.”
That's the guy I remember. That's the guy who they were talking about yesterday in that cathedral. And quite frankly, I think the tribute to John McCain, should be us talking about that. Next week we can talk about the political ramifications. But quite frankly--
RADDATZ: Governor Christie, we’ve been talking about it all week, and we have been certainly talking about the heroism of John McCain and carried that live on Saturday. But it was Meghan McCain who got the most attention yesterday, and you have to know that Donald Trump was the elephant in the room at that memorial service. So do you think he has handled this well?
CHRISTIE: The president of the United States no matter who that person is, is always the elephant in the room when they are not there. The fact is that the president of the United States, no matter who they are, is always the biggest figure in American public political life.
RADDATZ: And he wasn't there.
ROBERTS: And he wasn't there.
CHRISTIE: I understand that, and that was John McCain's desire, and his desire should be respected. People who are not invited to a funeral shouldn't show up. That's not showing respect to the deceased. That's showing disrespect to the deceased. It was good that the President didn't try to elbow his way in there, and by the way, members of his family were there to show the respect of the Trump family. Jared and Ivanka were both there, and at the funeral and did so in a respectful way. His chief of staff was there, John Kelly who understands John McCain's sacrifice because he has had an even greater sacrifice himself by giving up his son for this country -- to defend this country. He’s a gold star father.
So there were lots of representatives of the Trump administration there yesterday to show that this administration has great respect for John McCain, despite whatever political disagreements they may have had over time.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much, Governor Christie.