Pentagon confirms move to hide USS John McCain from Trump
SEOUL: The acting Pentagon chief confirmed on Sunday that the White House had requested that a warship bearing the name of late senator John McCain be hidden during a visit by US President Donald Trump to Japan.
In Washington, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the request probably was made by somebody on Mr Trump's advance team but no one would be fired for it.
US media reported efforts were made to obscure the USS John S. McCain's name during Mr Trump's visit to an American military facility last week, accusations denied by acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Mr Trump.
But Mr Shanahan said on Sunday that Mr Trump's staff had contacted the Japan-based Seventh Fleet of the US Navy and given "the directive that the USS John S. McCain should be hidden from view".
"That directive was not carried out," Mr Shanahan told the media while flying to Seoul.
He said he commissioned an investigation upon learning of the incident.
"There is no room for politicising the military. I'll deal with this in an appropriate manner."
His spokesman said the Pentagon lodged a protest at a White House meeting last Friday.
"Secretary Shanahan directed his chief of staff to speak with the White House military office and reaffirm its mandate that the (Pentagon) will not be politicised," he said.
Mr Mulvaney, in comments on NBC's Meet The Press, acknowledged the request was probably made by someone on the White House advance team but said it was "not an unreasonable thing to ask".
"Is someone going to get fired for this? No," he said.
Mr Trump had a combative political relationship with Mr McCain, who died last August.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the incident, Mr Shanahan was aware of concern about the ship's name and "approved measures to ensure it didn't interfere with the President's visit".
Those measures included hanging a tarpaulin over the ship's name, the Journal said. It was removed before Mr Trump arrived, but a barge was moved closer to the ship, blocking the view of its name. - AFP