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Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Comment on McCain 'dying anyway' shouldn't have been leaked

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Kelly Sadler, a special assistant who handles surrogate communications, told other staffers during a meeting Thursday that McCain's opposition to Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director nominee, Gina Haspel, does not matter because "he's dying anyway", a White House official told CNN.

The Hill first reported Thursday that Sadler said during a private meeting that McCain's opposition to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump issues disaster declaration for Hawaii volcano damage Giuliani biographer: He's "a drama machine" Trump attacks media after reports of Cohen deal with AT&T MORE's nominee to become Central Intelligence Agency director, Gina Haspel, "doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway".

Gina Haspel, who was nominated by President Donald Trump, will be the first woman in history to be Central Intelligence Agency director.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday that Sadler still works for the White House.

Spokeswoman Sanders, however, disputed the idea that the president had set a tone at the top that encouraged derogatory comments like Sadler's. "There are so many accolades I could heap on John McCain".

One White House official told The New York Times' Maggie Haberman that some people "gasped" at Sadler's remark.

Earlier Friday, McCain's daughter Meghan, a co-host on ABC'sThe View, took a thinly-veiled swipe at the White House, saying "I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable and then you could come to work the next day and still have a job".

Former Vice President Joe Biden issued a striking statement Friday saying the White House had finally hit rock bottom. John McCain was inappropriate but shouldn't have been leaked to the media.

"The fact is John McCain - [torture] worked on John".

But she focused on the positivity she's experienced from others since her father was diagnosed previous year with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

In a video message posted on Twitter, the 2016 GOP rival of Trump demanded that the White House apologize for the "outrageous and totally out-of-line" comment about "American hero" McCain.

White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp spoke up during the session to defend Sadler, one of the sources said.

Sadler's comments drew bipartisan condemnation.

Close friend and political ally Senator Lindsey Graham visited McCain last week and the two watched an old movie and talked about McCain's imprint on politics. "I feel blessed. My dad's actually doing really well right now and I believe in the power of prayer and I think it's helping. And if we have to use them to save a million American lives, we will do whatever we have to".