White House makes first comment after disparaging words about McCain

White House also trying to correct the record about the latest statement from Rudy Giuliani.
3:03 | 05/12/18

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Transcript for White House makes first comment after disparaging words about McCain
Let's turn to politics now, and a cleanup operation from the white house. After what a staff member said during an internal meeting about senator John McCain, who is battling brain cancer. Sources tell ABC news the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, chewed out her staff, but still no public apology. The white house also trying to correct the record about the latest statements the president's new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told a reporter.abc's Tara Palmeri is at the white house. Reporter: Tonight, for the first time, the white house publicly addressing the callous remark about senator John McCain. But still not apologizing. It was a joke. It was a badly considered joke. An awful joke that she said fell flat. Reporter: The comment, made by white house staffer Kelly Sadler in a closed-door meeting, that McCain's opposition to their nominee for CIA director Gina Haspel, "doesn't matter, because he's dying anyway." McCain is battling brain cancer. This was a private meeting. It was clearly -- that was designed to hurt that person. Reporter: We're now learning press secretary Sarah Sanders has scolded her staff. White house sources say in a private meeting on Friday she called the comments unacceptable, but was more angered by the leak. Some now taking Sadler's side. A person in the room telling us senior communications adviser Mercedes schlapp said she "Stood by Kelly Sadler," because she saw the leak as an attack. Does she still have a job? I'm not going to comment on an internal staff meeting. Reporter: Sadler did privately apologize to McCain's daughter Meghan, but that was clearly not enough. I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job. Reporter: Politicians outraged. Mitt Romney tweeting, "John McCain makes America great. Those who mock such greatness only humiliate themselves and their silent accomplices." It was trump himself who famously attacked the reblican senator. He's not a war hero. He's a war hero. Five and a half years -- He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured. Reporter: Tonight, the white house also cleaning up comments made by president trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. In an interview with the Huffington post, Giuliani credited the president with blocking the time warner/at&t deal, saying, "The president denied the merger. They didn't get the result they wanted." During the campaign, trump spoke out against it. It's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few. Reporter: The administration has maintained that trump had no influence on the decision. Tonight, Sarah Sanders releasing a statement, saying, "The department of justice denied the merger." Giuliani walking back those comments, telling CNN the president told him directly he didn't interfere. And Tara joining us live from the white house. Tara, Rudy Giuliani pushing back on the notion that the president's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, actually lobbied the president on behalf of the companies that paid him? Reporter: That's right, Tom. Giuliani said the president had no idea that Michael Cohen was accepting payments from various companies for insight on the white house. AT&T paid him $600,000 alone. He accepted a total of $4 million from various companies. Tom? Tara Palmeri at the white house tonight for us. Tara, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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