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WH budget director says McCain joke 'awful' but not a fireable offense

WH budget director says McCain joke 'awful' but not a fireable offense

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the U.S. Naval Academy on October 30, 2017. John McCain, according to several sources familiar with the meeting.

The Hill first reported Thursday that Sadler said during a private meeting that McCain's opposition to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump issues disaster declaration for Hawaii volcano damage Giuliani biographer: He's "a drama machine" Trump attacks media after reports of Cohen deal with AT&T MORE's nominee to become Central Intelligence Agency director, Gina Haspel, "doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway". It was a joke that fell flat, a White House official told CNN.

The White House is standing behind Sadler and has mostly expressed concern that the public learned about the remark, as Mulvaney did during his Fox appearance.

White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp reportedly said: "You can put this on the record..."

Both publicly and privately, according to the sources, Sanders has focused more on the leaking of the comment than its substance. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declined to "validate a leak" by responding to a question about it during Friday's press briefing, but later exploded at communications staff in a meeting, according to a report in Axios.

On Saturday morning, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that Sadler's remarks were "awful", but he dismissed the outrage they cause since the comments were made in a private conversation, and he said the leak was the bigger issue. "We've all said things in private, especially in smaller groups with people we work with, that we'd never said publicly".

Mulvaney argued that the leak was created to hurt Sadler and "completely ignored the harm it would do to the McCain family, which is doubly inconsiderate".

Mulvaney told Fox News that in doing so, Sadler handled the situation "appropriately".

Sadler reportedly called the senator's daughter Meghan McCain to apologize for the comment, but during a "The View" the next day, McCain said she was surprised Sadler was still employed by the White House.

"I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense", McCain said in a statement.

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