Sen. Lindsey Graham, who had been an ally of John McCain and one of the Arizona Republican's closest friends, revealed the late lawmaker's last words to him in an emotional interview on NBC's "Today."
"The last thing he said to me was, 'I love you, I have not been cheated,'" Graham, the South Carolina Republican, said, as a tear rolled down his cheek. McCain died Saturday night after a year-long battle with brain cancer. The late senator had spent much of his last three years clashing with President Donald Trump — a feud that continued evenafter his passing.
But Graham, who unlike McCain has embraced Trump's presidency, said that his friend never had much of a problem with his decision to support Trump."John has shown it's not about you. Country first," Graham said. "Country first hurts, but it's the right way to go."And when it came to Trump's response to McCain's death — he initially offered only a brief tweet, and had the White House flag prematurely re-raised to full-staff before having it lowered back to half-staff after veterans groups and lawmakers grew furious — Graham praised Trump for "finally" getting "to where he needs to be."
"How the president feels about Sen. McCain, it's his right to feel any way he likes," Graham said. "Clearly they had a contentious relationship. He's not the only one to have had a tense relationship with John McCain," he added.
Tributes pour in for Sen. John McCain
Tributes pour in for Sen. John McCain
Arizona Sen. John McCain's family announced on Friday, August 24, 2018 that he had discontinued medical treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer.
**Click through the following slides to see how politicians and well-known figures are paying tribute to him.**
(Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
John McCain personifies service to our country. The whole House is keeping John and his family in our prayers during this time.
I love my husband with all of my heart. God bless everyone who has cared for my husband along this journey. https://t.co/v27sEbboii
Very sad to hear this morning’s update from the family of our dear friend @SenJohnMcCain. We are so fortunate to ca… https://t.co/B2hNCUeEHW
Today, we received the sad news of @SenJohnMcCain’s decision. Courageous and heroic as ever. A national treasure. O… https://t.co/yGl0h0tqVa
To @SenJohnMcCain: Thank you. Thank you with all of my heart for your commitment to our country, your inspiration,… https://t.co/LHC3ZUTNdf
God bless John McCain, his family, and all who love him — a brave man showing us once again what the words grace an… https://t.co/6vnvicltPy
Prayers for @SenJohnMcCain and his family at this most trying time 🙏🏻 May comfort and peace envelope them. May my f… https://t.co/3kd8O59s68
No man this century better exemplifies honor, patriotism, service,
sacrifice, and country first than Senator John M… https://t.co/4lVX9otX1O
John McCain is going to finish the race the way he has done everything in his life, his way and on his terms. May G… https://t.co/0cwjppGGry
I’m praying for @SenJohnMcCain and his family during this time. Our nation continues to be grateful for his lifetim… https://t.co/8vwpUURChJ
Heartbreaking news this morning about my friend @SenJohnMcCain. Please join me in saying a prayer for John,… https://t.co/VRm4LohIcv
Sad to hear that @SenJohnMcCain has stopped medical treatment, but no one can deny his faithful service to our nati… https://t.co/hnrEvdFZvl
We are praying for you every day, John. We love you. Thank you for your courage, and for your extraordinary service… https://t.co/Tfx6CQG74Q
My thoughts and prayers are with Senator McCain and his family. https://t.co/cqHXdjJntj
God bless and keep this wonderful man and his family @SenJohnMcCain
Our prayers are with John and the wonderful McCain family today. https://t.co/ufEuUkKhT3
I just want to acknowledge the continuing and abiding love, care, and dedication that Cindy McCain and the family a… https://t.co/JJ2p9rHhCp
The entire McCain clan is doing exactly what the McCains have done through generations — rise to the meet the challenge.
Elizabeth and I are saddened to hear the news about our friend, John McCain. John is a great American hero who has… https://t.co/XnugFmmGwJ
.@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero. Angela and I send our prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy and the entire McCain f… https://t.co/NkqlzziXP7
Senator McCain is a friend and hero. God bless him and his family. https://t.co/Dyel4eBvjS
One of the true honors of my life has been having @SenJohnMcCain as a friend & mentor. He’s a true American hero. H… https://t.co/NinmhEX9Bp
Sending my prayers to @SenJohnMcCain and his family. Nobody fights harder than the Maverick.
Amazed at the unwavering strength of my friend and colleague, @SenJohnMcCain. My thoughts and prayers are with John… https://t.co/Jw67rvFY6H
May the prayers and affection of his country, and of friends around the world, surround John and his beloved family… https://t.co/UeKiOIOpF9
Graham added that the rift between the two men was "much deeper" than Trump being angry with Sessions for having recused himself from any federal probe into Russian election meddling."It's a pretty deep breach," he said. "This relationship is beyond repair."Graham added that should Sessions be replaced, the next attorney general will have to "allow Mueller to do his job."
John McCain through the years
John McCain through the years
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: TV RATINGS--Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., during hearing on the TV ratings system. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
20th August 1992: The Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain, speaking at the Republican National Convention. A fomer prisoner of war for several years in Vietnam, he contested his party's nomination for the 2000 election. (Photo by Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
HANOI, VIET NAM: U.S. Sen. John McCain, a former POW, looks 31 May 1993 at a display of personal belongings of American POWs at the joint POW/MIA archives center in the Hanoi Army Museum. McCain is with U.S. Sen. John Kerry and a delegation on a two-day visit aimed at obtaining more access to archives dealing with the fate of missing U.S. servicemen. (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 18: MCCAIN'S DAY--Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., relaxes in his office at about 2:15 p.m. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 02: McCAIN BILL--John McCain,R-Ariz.,during a press conference on the McCain Bill and tobacco legislation. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : US Senator John McCain, R-AZ, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation begins the start of a hearing on the investigation of the scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC 14 April, 1999. AFP PHOTO/Mario TAMA (Photo credit should read MARIO TAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
HANOVER, : US Senator John McCain speaks to reporters 27 October,1999 in Hanover, New Hampshire. McCain criticized sugar, oil, and corn (shown behind) subsidies and linked them to 'soft money' campaign contributions. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, : Republican president hopeful John McCain greets supporters as he arrives at a debate forum sponsored by a local television station 02 December, 1999, in Manchester, New Hampshire. McCain will debate the other Republican candidates seeking the party's presidential nomination. (DIGITAL IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: John McCain addresses a shadow convention at the Annenberg Center of the University of Pennsylvania. McCain was booed when he asked suppoters to back his former primary opponent, George W. Bush. The shadow convention was put on near the site of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia to highlight issues that the organizers say the major parties are ignoring. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
CAMDEN, UNITED STATES: GOP presidential hopeful US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) waves during an 'Old Fashion BBQ and Stump Meeting' on the front yard of a supporter's house 08 January 2000 in Camden, South Carolina. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
PETERBOROUGH, NH - JANUARY 30: Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (L) and his wife Cindy are showered with confetti following McCain's final town meeting 30 January, 2000 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) (Photo credit should read C.J. GUNTHER/AFP/Getty Images)
GREENWOOD, : Republican presidential hopeful John McCain makes a point 14 February 2000 during a town hall meeting at the American Legion Post 20 in Greenwood, South Carolina. McCain is campaigning heavily in the southern state against Texas Governor Geroge W. Bush ahead of the 19 February 2000 primary. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Tim SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1789 -- Pictured: (l-r) Senator John McCain during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 1, 2000 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 30: Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on climate change. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: TEMPORARY GUEST WORKERS--Witness Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during the Senate Judiciary Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee hearing titled 'Evaluating a Temporary Guest Worker Proposal.' (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: SENATE POLICY LUNCHES--Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to reporters after the Senate GOP policy luncheon. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 20: U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) addresses The Northern Virginia Technology Council's Titans breakfast at the Capitol Hilton September 20, 2006 in Washington, DC. McCain spoke on a variety of subjects, including telecommunications legislation, net neutrality, research and development tax credits, immigration, and Internet taxes. He also addressed the rift that he and several other Republican senators are having with the White House over the Geneva Conventions. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - JULY 04: US Senator John McCain (C) holds a press conference at ISAF HQ in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 4, 2017. US Senator John McCain visited the headquarters of NATO-led mission after his visit at Pakistan. (Photo by Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, July 13, 2017 -- U.S. Senator John McCain is swarmed by reporters as he leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. July 13, 2017. Senate Republicans of the U.S. Congress on Thursday unveiled a new healthcare bill that they hoped can fulfill their long-time goal to 'repeal and replace' the Affordable Care Act. (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)