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Trump not welcome as America pays tribute to 'brave soul' McCain

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Annette Bening and Warren Beatty were among those who attended the ceremony for Senator John McCain yesterday

Annette Bening and Warren Beatty were among those who attended the ceremony for Senator John McCain yesterday

Annette Bening and Warren Beatty were among those who attended the ceremony for Senator John McCain yesterday

Relatives, officials and friends have paid tribute to Vietnam hero and long-time senator John McCain, whose body has been lying in state under the US Capitol's majestic dome.

US President Donald Trump, who was told to stay away from the ceremony by the McCain family, was on his way to North Carolina for an event on retirement security at the time of the service.

Vice President Mike Pence, lawmakers and guests paid tribute at an emotional ceremony surrounding the casket in the vast rotunda yesterday.

Light rain fell as Mr McCain's casket was carried into the Capitol by members of America's military as his family watched from the steps.

Fight

"It is only right that today, near the end of his long journey, John lies here, in this great hall, under the mighty dome, like other American heroes before him," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"We thank God for giving this country John McCain."

House Speaker Paul Ryan called him "one of the bravest souls our nation has produced".

Mr McCain, a former navy aviator, really did "talk like a sailor," Mr Ryan said, drawing smiles from the crowd.

"But you see, with John, it wasn't feigned disagreement.

"The man didn't feign anything. He just relished the fight."

Mr Pence said he didn't always agree with Mr McCain, but said his support for limited government, tax reform and the military "surely left our nation more prosperous and more secure".

Mr McCain "served his country honourably," Mr Pence said, adding that Mr Trump "respected his service to the country".

The president had mocked Mr McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War.

Mr Trump obtained deferments during the Vietnam War for his college education and then for bone spurs in his heels.

The ceremony was the first of two days of services in Washington honouring the Arizona senator, who served in Congress for 35 years.

Today, Mr McCain's procession will pause by the Vietnam Memorial and head for Washington's National Cathedral for a formal funeral service.

At Mr McCain's request, two former presidents - Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W Bush - will speak.

Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman and actor Warren Beatty were among those pausing at Mr McCain's casket.

Mr McCain chose a Russian dissident as a pallbearer, though Mr Trump has professed repeatedly his affinity and admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin - praise that came amid special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The procession's pause at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where Mr McCain's widow, Cindy, is expected to lay a wreath, which will highlight her husband's military service and his more than five years as a prisoner of war.

Decency

Former vice president Joe Biden and others provided a preview of the tributes to follow.

None of the speakers at the North Phoenix Baptist Church uttered Mr Trump's name but Mr Biden, who is considering challenging Mr Trump in 2020, made what some saw as a veiled reference to the president.

He said Mr McCain left those who "lacked the basic values of decency and respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself".


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