After John McCain urged senators to reject Gina Haspel, a White House aide has dismissed his opinion because he has cancer. McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war, said Haspel's role in torture was "disturbing."
A White House official on Thursday said that US Senator John McCain's opposition to CIA director nominee Gina Haspel "doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway."
Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House communications office, made the comments at a closed-door meeting with about two dozen staffers, The Hill newspaper said.
Sadler's remarks were also reported by the Washington Post, which also reported that a White House spokesman did not dispute the report.
The comments came one day after McCain, who is battling brain cancer, urged senators to reject Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director.
'My husband has a family'
In his Wednesday statement, McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam and was tortured by his captors, said Haspel had failed in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to address his concerns about the agency's post-9/11 harsh interrogation program for terrorism suspects.
The 81-year-old Republican senator was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer last year and has been receiving treatment in his home state of Arizona.
McCain's wife, Cindy McCain, responded to Sadler's comments in a tweet, saying: "May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children and 5 grandchildren."
According to the Washington Post, the White House said in a statement that "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time."
Speaking on CNN, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close friend of McCain sent a message to Sadler: "Ms. Sadler, may I remind you that John McCain has a lot of friends in the United States Senate on both sides of the aisle. Nobody is laughing in the Senate."
law/rc (AP, Reuters)