US President Donald Trump will not attend the funeral of his political antagonist John McCain, a spokesman for the late senator has said.
“The president will not be, as far as we know, attending the funeral,” said McCain family friend Rick Davis. “That’s just a fact.” The British Broadcasting Corporation reports that Davis read out a posthumous message from McCain that appeared to take a thinly veiled dig at Mr Trump.
In the message, McCain urged Americans not to “hide behind walls”.
The Arizona Republican died on Saturday of brain cancer.
The American people are “a nation of ideals, not blood and soil,” Davis said as he read from McCain’s letter on Monday at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix.
“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe,” he continued.
“We weaken it when he hide behind walls rather than tear them down.”
In his posthumous letter, McCain also told his fellow Americans: “Do not despair of our present difficulties.”
Davis confirmed that former Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama will pay tribute to McCain during his funeral ceremony on Saturday at the National Cathedral.
Vice-President Mike Pence will attend on behalf of the Trump administration.
Trump and McCain are both Republicans, but the two have long feuded.
Earlier on Monday, the White House was urged by senators of both parties to lower its US flags in honour of McCain.
Top Democrat Chuck Schumer and top Republican Mitch McConnell said flags on all government buildings should be at half-staff for the late senator until his burial this Sunday.
President Trump ordered the flags to fly at half-staff on Saturday evening, but by Monday they were back at full-staff.
Flags at the US Capitol and other Washington DC federal landmarks remained at half-staff.
Some said the White House was simply following proper procedure because US Flag Code states that flags be lowered “on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress”.
However, others pointed out it is traditional to keep flags lowered to honour lawmakers and major public figures until their funerals.
McCain’s body will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol on Wednesday and at the US Capitol Rotunda on Friday, giving his colleagues and the public a chance to pay their respects.
The White House issued no formal statement over the weekend about McCain’s death, though one was drafted, according to US media.