Who Is Mercedes Schlapp? White House Strategic Communications Director Backs Kelly Sadler Over ‘Dying’ McCain Comment: Report

Scrutiny over a White House aide mocking ailing Arizona Republican Senator John McCain as “dying anyway” has heightened with a new report that Mercedes Schlapp, a White House strategic communications director, supported the seemingly inappropriate comment.

Related: Watch: Meghan McCain Slams White House for Not Firing Aide Who Mocked Her Father’s Cancer

Schlapp on Friday said, “You can put this on the record … I stand with Kelly Sadler,” the White House aide who made the remark about McCain in an internal meeting Thursday, a source in the room told Axios.

Sadler in the meeting with White House communications staff said the decision by McCain, who is battling brain cancer, to oppose President Donald Trump’s CIA director nominee Gina Haspel “doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

A source close to Schlapp told Axios on Saturday that “her point was that when one staff member is publicly targeted by other members of the staff, she thinks that’s inappropriate and the team should support staffers who are subjected to leaks.”

Schlapp was a potential candidate to become White House communications director after Trump’s longtime aide Hope Hicks stepped down in March. She is a former Fox News commentator who spoke favorably of Trump, and prior to that was director of specialty media for former President George W. Bush.

She started working in Trump’s White House in September shortly after chief of staff John Kelly reordered operations in the West Wing and is reportedly well-liked by him. But she lacked a defined role at the beginning of her tenure that reportedly caused tension between her and other communications staff, which has apparently lingered.

Schlapp hails from Miami and is the daughter of a Cuban political prisoner, The Miami Herald reported last year. When The Hill selected her as one of the 50 Most Beautiful people in 2016, she told the publication that her father "taught me since I was a little girl to always fight to protect America’s freedom and democracy.” She has been a longtime resident of Washington, D.C. 

Schlapp’s husband, Matt, is an influential conservative who heads the American Conservative Union. On MSNBC in March, he said she would be “very open to anything the president wants her to do.”

05_12_18_Schlapp American Conservation Union Chairman Matt Schlapp (R) and his wife and political commentator Mercedes Schlapp (L) acknowledge the crowd during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 24, 2017, in National Harbor, Maryland. Alex Wong/Getty Images

“She loves her job. She’s challenged by her job,” Matt Schlapp added. “She loves the environment in which she works. She’s having a blast even though it is awfully tough. And when she comes home at night, I give her a cocktail. That’s my job.”

According to the New York Times, some Republicans consider the Schlapps an "it" couple, but detractors call them opportunists. "Either way, they’re symbolic of a deep rift within their party," the newspaper added