Republican Senator says McCain's legacy critics 'deserve a whippin'

Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson on Monday said anyone who disrespects the legacy of late Sen. John McCain “deserves a whippin’.”

“John was better than me and I know it” Isakson said on the U.S. Senate floor. “Anybody who in any way tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping, because most of the ones who would do the wrong thing about John McCain didn’t have the guts to do the right thing when it was their turn.”

"Anybody who in any way tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping, because most of the ones who would do the wrong thing about John McCain didn’t have the guts to do the right thing when it was their turn."

— Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson

Isakson’s comments were an apparent swipe at President Trump, who was criticized after the White House briefly broke the tradition and returned the flags to full height on Monday after flying them half-staff on Sunday, the day after the Arizona Republican succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 81.

“I would say to the president or to anybody in the world, it’s time to pause and say, ‘This was a great man who gave everything for us. We owe him nothing less than our respect that he earned.'”

Multiple veteran groups expressed dissatisfaction with the White House’s decision, issuing statements urging to reverse the action.

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In a statement directed to Trump, American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan wrote: "On the behalf of The American Legion's two million wartime veterans, I strongly urge you to make an appropriate presidential proclamation noting Senator McCain's death and legacy of service to our nation, and that our nation's flag be half-staffed through his interment."

VFW spokesman Joe Davis said in a statement the organization had "asked the White House if the honor of lowering the flag to half-staff could be extended through Senator McCain's interment."

Following the criticism from veteran groups, Trump ordered on Monday to fly the American flag at half-staff through this coming Sunday to honor McCain.

“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment," said Trump, who added that Vice President Mike Pence will make remarks at Friday's ceremony honoring McCain at the U.S. Capitol.

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.