Arizona Sen. John McCain: 'We should not be fighting' over Sgt. Johnson's death

McCain was a guest on "The View."

ByABC News
October 23, 2017, 11:44 AM

— -- Arizona Sen. John McCain weighed in on the war of words over President Donald Trump’s handling of a phone call to an Army widow as she was grieving over the loss of her husband Army Sergeant La David Johnson.

"We should not be fighting about a brave American who lost his life serving his country," McCain said in an appearance on “The View” today. "That should not be the topic of discussion in America today."

Sgt. Johnson was one of four U.S. military members to lose their lives during an ambush in Niger. On Tuesday, Trump called the family of Sgt. Johnson and according to Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson, Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for. But I guess it still hurt.” Trump denied he said so, though Myeshia Johnson said on "Good Morning America" Wilson was "100 percent correct."

Earlier on Monday, Myeshia Johnson said on "Good Morning America" that Trump struggled to remember her husband’s name. Trump defended himself on Twitter, arguing he said Sgt. Johnson’s name right away and “without hesitation.”

McCain has been pressing the Trump administration for more details on what happened during that fateful Oct. 4 military ambush.

"Americans should know what’s going on in Niger," McCain said.

McCain said "one of the fights" he's waging with the Trump administration is that the Senate Armed Services Committee he chairs "is not getting enough information."

During a wide-ranging interview, McCain grew emotional at times talking about the gratitude he feels following his cancer diagnosis.

"I don’t mean to get a little sentimental, it does make you appreciate every minute of every hour, of every day," he said. "We should all thank God for every minute, because we are blessed to be on the greatest nation on earth.”

The Arizona senator also weighed in on his personal feud with President Donald Trump.

Asked if he has a working relationship with the president, McCain said he has “almost none.”

In a response to McCain’s speech last Monday in which the lawmaker slammed the ”half-baked, spurious nationalism” sweeping the U.S. -- widely seen as a criticism of the tenor coming from the current administration -- Trump warned “at some point I fight back.”

When asked today if he was scared of Trump’s threat, McCain laughed and said he has faced "greater challenges."

McCain also sought to put to rest questions about whether he was referring to Trump's exemption from military service due to a bone spur ailment.

“One aspect of the [Vietnam] conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur,” McCain said in an interview for a CSPAN documentary that aired Sunday. “That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

McCain said today he wasn’t speaking about the president.

“I was talking about the entire Vietnam conflict and what a tragedy it is,” McCain said.

“I don’t consider him so much a draft dodger as I feel that the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country,” McCain said.

McCain had served in the Vietnam War and was captured and held as a prisoner of war for nearly five and a half years. Last year, Trump criticized McCain’s war record, saying he liked “the ones who weren’t captured.”

McCain also said the caliber of American political dialogue is in need of an overhaul.

When he defended Obama on the 2008 campaign trail, taking away a woman’s microphone as she hit out at Obama for being "an Arab", McCain was hailed for putting respect and dignity before politics.

“You can’t let that go," he said. "You’ve just got to do what’s right.”

"We've got to lift the national dialogue. Let’s stop insulting each other. Let's start respect each other's views," McCain said, adding, "We need to have a kinder more respectful, but vigorous debate and discussion. But based on what we want the country to do, not whether somebody's a jerk or not.”

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