The U.S. flag above the White House is back to full-staff less than two days after the death of Sen. John McCain.
The flag’s position was quickly noticed by journalists and White House watchers early Monday morning and interpreted as a snub of McCain by President Donald Trump. Other flags at federal sites across Washington remained at half-staff in a period of mourning, further confusing the issue.
Fairly striking image — all of the flags surrounding the Washington Monument are at half-staff, though the flag atop the White House was raised to full staff just after midnight. pic.twitter.com/BwKRbqKk0G
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) August 27, 2018
The practices and protocols governing the U.S. flag code are complicated. Official U.S. code dictates that after the death of a member of Congress, the flag must be flown at half-staff on the day of death and the day after. This procedure was followed by the White House staff, who lowered their flag on Saturday after the news of McCain’s death and kept it lowered all day Sunday.
The discrepancy between the White House flag and the flag atop the Capitol is likely explained by a 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service, which states that, in practice, the flag atop the legislative chamber is kept lowered to half-staff until the day the deceased member is buried.
While technically in line with protocol, the White House’s quick return to full-staff is unusual. Trump normally orders flags to remain at half-staff for an extended period after the loss of national figures, like he did after the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush.