MCCAIN FUNERAL | Thousands line up to say goodbye to John McCain


WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of people lined up for blocks outside the U.S. Capitol today to say goodbye to John McCain as officials, relatives and friends paid their tributes inside to the Vietnam hero and longtime senator lying in state under the majestic dome.

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

A light rain fell as McCain's casket was carried into the Capitol by members of America's military services. His family watched from the steps.

"It is only right that today, near the end of his long journey, John lies here, in this great hall, under this 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 McCain "one of the bravest souls our nation has produced."

McCain, a former Navy aviator, really did "talk like a sailor," 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."

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

McCain "served his country honorably," Pence said, adding that President Donald Trump "respected his service to the country."

Trump, who has mocked McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War, was asked to stay away from the Capitol service, people close to the White House and the McCain family said.

After the service, McCain's wife of 38 years, Cindy, bowed over the casket, clasped her hands and appeared to pray there. Later, she sat at her husband's desk with Sen. Lindsey Graham at her side in the semi-darkened Senate. Graham plucked two roses from the vase on the late senator's desk and gave them to her, according to two people close to McCain with knowledge of the private moment.

12:26 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Family, friends and a roster of current and former Washington officials paid tribute to John McCain at the Capitol.

Vice President Mike Pence was joined by top White House officials including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Military brass included members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and actor Warren Beatty were among those pausing at McCain's casket as the senator lies in state under the dome.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan delivered remarks. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were flanked by scores of lawmakers, including former prisoner of war, GOP Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas.

9:21 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's Washington's turn to say goodbye to the late Sen. John McCain. And McCain is saying farewell – his way.

The six-term Republican senator, who lived and worked in the nation's capital over four decades, will lie in state under the U.S. Capitol rotunda today for a ceremony and public visitation.

On Saturday, McCain's procession pauses by the Vietnam Memorial and heads for Washington National Cathedral for a formal funeral service. At McCain's request, two former presidents – Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush – are expected to speak there.

People close to the White House and McCain's family said President Donald Trump, who has mocked McCain for getting captured during the Vietnam War, has been asked to stay away from all events.

McCain's funeral puts him back in the spotlight a few miles from Trump's doorstep, in the city where the senator, who died last Saturday at 81, worked and collected friends and enemies – and some people were both at different times. The procession is expected to continue highlighting what McCain found important, some of which contrasts with Trump's style and priorities.

Vice President Mike Pence will speak at the Capitol ceremony today, and other officials will represent the administration in Trump's hard-to-miss absence. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis greeted the McCain family Thursday night when the late senator's casket was flown into Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

McCain chose a Russian dissident as a pallbearer after Trump professed repeatedly his affinity and admiration for Russia and its 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 McCain's widow, Cindy, is expected to lay a wreath, will highlight McCain's military service and his more than five years as a prisoner of war.

Trump obtained deferments during the Vietnam War for his college education and for bone spurs in his heels. The president was expected to leave Washington in early afternoon, to head to North Carolina for an event on retirement security about the same time the public will start filing past McCain's casket.

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