Politics

McCain pleads for unity in the wake of Niger attack

Pentagon briefing scheduled for this week

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. John McCain called for unity Monday over the death of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed along with three other soldiers in a deadly ambush in Niger earlier this month.

"We should not be fighting about a brave American who lost his life serving his country," the Arizona Republican said on "The View." "That should not be the topic of discussion in America today."

But McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said he is not getting enough information about the October 4 incident.

Johnson was killed by enemy fire in the ambush, the Pentagon said. His body was recovered by U.S. personnel in a remote area of the northwestern African country by Nigerien troops nearly 48 hours after he was discovered missing in the wake of the attack, U.S. officials told CNN.

McCain told reporters last week that he might seek a subpoena for information before the Department of Defense is finished conducting its initial review of the incident. Senators on the armed services committee are expected to receive a briefing from Pentagon officials Thursday on the Niger incident, two Senate sources told CNN Monday.

President Donald Trump's response to the attack has drawn some criticism, particularly his public feud with a Democratic congresswoman over a condolence call he made to Johnson's widow.

McCain also was asked about comments he made that were aired in a C-SPAN interview Thursday about those who served -- and didn't serve -- in the Vietnam War. He said low-income Americans were drafted and "the highest income level found a doctor that would say they have a bone spur."

McCain never mentioned Trump by name in the interview, but the president's deferment because of a bone spur is widely known and the president's family was well off at the time.

He clarified his comments on "The View," saying he does not think of Trump as a "draft dodger."

"I don't consider him so much as a draft dodger as I feel the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country," he said.

McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, joined the ABC show as a co-host in early October.


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