This whole episode has set of my BS detector. Something does not feel right. People are using words to describe things that do not correspond with the conclusions they expect us to draw.
Recall that McCain is damaged and 10 sailors were killed on it. My guess is that a thoughtful staffer was concerned about Trump making an appearance with a mass death scene in the background. The description of the request that the ship be “out of sight” seems more consistent with this motivation than with Trump pettiness.
The tarp over the McCain name shown in media photos had already been on the ship due to the repair work. Snopes reports:
One of those officials reportedly clarified that a tarp used on the ship, which temporarily covered the vessel’s name, had been placed there as part of ongoing maintenance rather than specifically for the purpose of keeping the McCain family name out of view for Trump’s visit, and that the tarp had been removed before Trump’s speech.
Combining fragmentary info on the request with fragmentary info on the tarp (omitting its pre-existence), and given the media’s anti-Trump narrative, someone (including Mick Mulvaney) could erroneously reconstruct a White House request to hide the name McCain.