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Trump returns WH flags to half-staff, issues statement in tribute to John McCain

The White House flags were returned to half-staff on Monday to honor the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) after briefly being raised to full staff less than 48 hours after the senator's passing. (Drew Angerer-Pool/Getty Images)

Flags at the White House have been returned to half-staff, following criticism over the unusually brief amount of time they were originally lowered to honor the loss of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

President Donald Trump issued an official statement regarding the late senator Monday afternoon, and signed a proclamation ordering the flags to fly at half-staff until McCain's interment at the U.S. Capitol.

What did the statement say?

The statement from the president read: "Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.

"I have asked Vice President Mike Pence to offer an address at the ceremony honoring Senator McCain at the United States Capitol this Friday.

"At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Senator McCain's remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C., military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy.

"Finally, I have asked General John Kelly, Secretary James Mattis, and Ambassador John Bolton to represent my Administration at his services."

Anything else?

Trump initially ordered the White House flags flown at half-staff following McCain's death on Saturday. It is customary for them to remain at half-staff until the interment of political figures, but the administration was criticized by veterans groups when the flags were returned to full staff on Monday morning.

AMVETS national executive director Joe Chenelly issued a statement after the flags were raised up.

"By lowering flags for not one second more than the bare minimum required by law, despite a long-standing tradition of lowering flags until the funeral, the White House is showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain's many decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the service of all his fellow veterans," Chenelly's statement said.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion both sent letters to the White House urging the flags to be returned to half-staff on Monday.

American Legion national commander Denise Rohan wrote to President Trump: "I strongly urge you to make an appropriate presidential proclamation noting Sen. McCain's death and legacy of service to our nation, and that our nation's flag be half-staffed through his interment."

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