US President Donald Trump made a rare concession when he ordered the US flag on the White House to return to half-mast following John McCain's death.

Mr Trump bowed to pressure from politicians and veterans groups after he returned the US flag to its usual position after only a day at half-mast.

The Wall Street Journal reports that White House officials urged Mr Trump to put out a full statement about McCain following his death from brain cancer but he resisted.

They said he viewed the press coverage of the former senator and prisoner-of-war's death as "over the top" and more befitting a president, sources told the paper.

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Donald Trump returned the flag to its normal position after only a day to honour Senator John McCain. Photo / AP
Donald Trump returned the flag to its normal position after only a day to honour Senator John McCain. Photo / AP

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was the one who finally convinced Mr Trump to make a statement with the help of chief of staff, John Kelly.

"It was 99 per cent Sarah," the source said.

Ted Olsen, of Phoenix, looks to place an American flag at a makeshift memorial in honor of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at McCain's office. Photo / AP
Ted Olsen, of Phoenix, looks to place an American flag at a makeshift memorial in honor of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at McCain's office. Photo / AP

Mr Trump put out a brief statement about John McCain following his death on the weekend but failed to mention many of his achievements and merely sent condolences to his family.


Mr Trump also ignored questions about Mr McCain from reporters at a White House event on Monday.

Mr Trump and McCain have had a long-running feud. In 2015 he said McCain wasn't a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam — where he spent five years being tortured as a prisoner-of-war.

US Navy Lieutenant John Sidney McCain III. Photo / Getty Images
US Navy Lieutenant John Sidney McCain III. Photo / Getty Images

McCain also cast the deciding voted against Mr Trump's plans to repeal ObamaCare.

The senator's body will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol on Wednesday and a ceremony honouring McCain will be held on Friday at the US Capitol.

On Saturday, another service will see former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama give tributes.

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Pham Minh Chuc, an 81-year-old retiree, writes a book of condolences for Senator John McCain in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo / AP
Pham Minh Chuc, an 81-year-old retiree, writes a book of condolences for Senator John McCain in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo / AP

McCain will be buried at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where pallbearers will include former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Warren Beatty.

Trump resisted keeping the US flag on the White House at half-mast for John McCain because he felt the coverage of his death was more befitting a president. Photo / Getty Images
Trump resisted keeping the US flag on the White House at half-mast for John McCain because he felt the coverage of his death was more befitting a president. Photo / Getty Images

Mr Trump will not attend any of services for McCain.

The White House flag will remain at half-mast until McCain is buried.

McCain's BBF Senator Lindsay Graham gives emotional tribute

McCain's best friend in the Senate, Senator Lindsey Graham, has fought back tears as he gave an emotional tribute to the former POW.

"John taught us how to lose," Senator Graham said. "When you go throughout the world, people remember his concession speech (to Barack Obama) as much as anything else.

Sen. John McCain (R) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been longtime friends. Photo / Getty Images
Sen. John McCain (R) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been longtime friends. Photo / Getty Images

There are so many countries where you can't afford to lose, cause they kill you. ... He healed the nation at a time he was hurt."


Sen. Graham said he cannot replace McCain but he believes McCain's legacy lives on in Americans.

"It is going to be a lonely journey for me for awhile," he said, given he was always be McCain's side.

"I believe there's a little John McCain in all of us," he said. "And a little John McCain practiced by a lot of people can make this a really great nation."