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Amidst controversy, Trump denies instructing Navy about USS John S. McCain

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump says he had nothing to do with directing the U.S. Navy to keep a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain out of sight during his visit to Japan this week.

Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Thursday he "wasn't involved" in the effort. Trump says, "Somebody did it because they thought I didn't like him," but he says he "would never do a thing like that" even though he "wasn't a fan."

The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday that a tarp was placed over the warship's name before Trump's arrival and that sailors were instructed to remove any coverings from the ship that included its name. A desire to keep the warship out of sight is referenced in an email obtained by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by the Associated Press.

Three U.S. officials have since told the AP that the White House wanted the Navy to keep the warship out of Trump's sight during his trip to Japan. The officials spoke to the AP Wednesday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private email correspondence.

According to U.S. Navy officials, the USS John S. McCain, commissioned in 1994, was originally named after Sen. McCain's father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., and Sen. McCain was inducted into the official namesake of the ship in 2018.

Trump feuded with McCain publicly for years, continuing his criticism even after the Republican senator from Arizona died last year.

Sen. McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, spoke out about the incident Wednesday, in a tweet made on her verified Twitter account.

"Trump is a child who will always be deeply threatened by the greatness of my dad's incredible life," McCain wrote Wednesday. "There is a lot of criticism of how much I speak about my dad, but nine months since he passed, Trump won't let him RIP. So I have to stand up for him. It makes my grief unbearable."