WASHINGTON, June 6 — In an effort to end a month-long drama involving an aide mocking an ill Republican senator, the White House Tuesday said the aide has been fired.
“Kelly Sadler is no longer employed within the Executive Office of the president,” Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said in a one-line statement.
The move came as the White House is under increasing pressure to take disciplinary action against Sadler, who last month made a crude comment on John McCain, a senator from Arizona who has been diagnosed with brain cancer.
In a meeting discussing Senate votes on then Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel, Sadler downplayed possible McCain opposition, saying “it doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”
The remark was later leaked to the press, sparking fierce criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, who called for Sadler to be fired immediately.
Shah later defended Sadler in a press briefing, saying that everyone should be able to speak their minds at work, adding that the press office had “addressed the issue internally” without elaborating.
The White House did little to quell the anger against Sadler, especially after McCain’s daughter accused Sadler of walking back on a promise to apologize in public for the comment.
Sadler has called up McCain’s family to make a private apology, according to the White House, but has remained silent publicly.
The episode underscored the poisonous working environment that has shrouded the White House, where personal attacks and leaks have become a new norm.