Sorry, but that USS McCain story isn’t fake news

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Someone associated with the White House wanted the USS John McCain out of sight while President Trump visited Japan. This is not fake news.

Of course, the usual suspects are calling it so anyway.

But the original Wall Street Journal article which broke the story hasn’t fallen apart. In fact, other news outlet have independently corroborated most of the details.

On Wednesday night, the Journal reported that, per planning with the White House Military Office and the Seventh Fleet of the Navy, a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command official emailed instructions to Navy and Air Force officials to keep the USS John McCain out of sight. The Journal did not charge Trump with ordering the removal of the ship, but three U.S. officials confirmed the existence of the email to the Associated Press, and two Navy officials confirmed to CNN that the directive did originate from the White House Military Office. Two Navy sailors told the New York Times that, unlike sailors from other American warships at the Yokosuka Naval Base, sailors from the McCain were not invited to meet with Trump. The Pacific Fleet even confirmed to CBS the Journal’s assertion that the ship was covered by a tarp on Friday, although the plan was abandoned and the tarp removed by the time Trump arrived in Japan.

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The only piece of the original Journal story not independently corroborated is the allegation that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan knew of the scheme. For what it’s worth, Shanahan categorically denies having known anything about it and has promised to get to the bottom of the scheme.

So save for the Shanahan allegation, what part of this story is fake? Trump denies ordering the plan, but the journalists who wrote these stories never accused him of doing so. The plan to obscure the ship clearly wasn’t executed by the time Trump arrived in Japan, let alone at Yokosuka, but the journalists who wrote these stories never said it was.

What we do know is that someone from the White House thought that Trump would be so triggered by the ship that he or she had the audacity to direct multiple groups of people to conceal a first class destroyer. And we now know that, on some level, that person’s instincts were correct.

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