Two former presidents are expected to speak at Sen. John McCain’s service and he will lie in state in both the nation’s capital and Arizona as part of a cross-country funeral procession ending with his burial at the U.S. Naval Academy, according to plans taking shape Sunday.
McCain had long feuded with President Donald Trump, and two White House officials said McCain’s family had asked, before the senator’s death, that Trump not attend the funeral services. Vice-President Mike Pence is likely to attend, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private discussions.
A day after McCain died of brain cancer at 81, his family, friends and congressional and state leaders were working out details of the farewell to the decorated Vietnam War hero, prisoner of war and six-term senator.
His office said that McCain will lie in state in the Arizona state capitol on Wednesday. A funeral will be conducted at North Phoenix Baptist Church on Thursday with former Vice-President Joe Biden speaking.
The procession will then head to Washington, where McCain will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Friday with a formal ceremony and time for the public to pay respects. The next day, the procession will pass the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and head to a funeral at Washington National Cathedral. A private funeral is planned for Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Trump tweeted that his “deepest sympathies and respect” went out to McCain’s family. First lady Melania Trump tweeted thanks to McCain for his service to the country.
Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who blocked McCain’s own White House ambitions, are among those expected to speak at McCain’s funeral at Washington National Cathedral.
“These were bitter contests, both of them,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and “to ask them to speak at your funeral, and for them to be honoured at the opportunity, that tells you all you need to know.”
Flake told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that McCain “was quick to forgive – certainly put the good of the country above himself, and the fact that his former opponents will be there speaking says all we need to know.”
McCain died at his Arizona ranch after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.
Congressional leaders announced that McCain would lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, though they did not give a date. “The nation mourns the loss of a great American patriot, a statesman who put his country first and enriched this institution through many years of service,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Arizona will accord McCain that honour on Wednesday, when he would have turned 82. “This is a rare and distinct occurrence for a truly special man,” GOP Gov. Doug Ducey said in a tweet.
Ducey does not plan to announce his selection of a Senate successor to McCain until after McCain’s burial. Under state law, the governor’s appointee to serve until the next general election in 2020 must come from the same political party. A statement from Ducey’s office said that “now is a time for remembering and honouring a consequential life.”
Trump’s brief Twitter statement said “hearts and prayers” are with the McCain family.
Trump and McCain were at bitter odds until the end. The president, who as a candidate in 2016 mocked McCain’s capture in Vietnam, had jabbed at the ailing senator for voting against Republican efforts to roll back President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Earlier this summer, McCain issued a blistering statement criticizing Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.