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White House declines to condemn staffer's remark about John McCain

The White House is refusing to condemn a staffer who said during a closed-door meeting that Arizona Sen. John McCain's opinion "doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway."

White House aide Kelly Sadler responded to McCain's opposition to President Trump's pick for CIA director by saying Thursday morning that "he's dying anyway," a White House official said.

The official said Sadler, who is in charge of surrogate communications, meant it as a joke, "but it fell flat."

McCain announced last year that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and he issued a statement Wednesday calling on his fellow senators to oppose Gina Haspel, Trump's nominee for CIA director, whose ties to the use of interrogation methods widely considered torture have drawn significant criticism.

Asked about Sadler's comment, a White House official said, "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time."

Sadler called the senator's daughter Meghan McCain on Thursday to apologize for the remark, although it's unclear what her response was.

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