Did Trump Adviser Katrina Pierson Appear to Scold the Late John McCain for His Silence on Dossier?

A December 20, 2018 tweet from political operative Katrina Pierson was widely examined and commented on when its syntax made it appear that Pierson was chiding Sen. John McCain — who died the previous August — for his silence:

Since everyone is just now realizing his staffers role in the #RussiaHoax We have been asking questions! John McCain Still Refuses to Answer Questions About His Role in the Dossier https://t.co/acsVdH1GTq

— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) December 21, 2018

Many immediately responded with humorous replies:

You might wanna sit down for this

— Rob DenBleyker (@RobDenBleyker) December 21, 2018

have you tried asking louder?

— jordan (@JordanUhl) December 21, 2018

This is such important work, I implore you to dedicate yourself to nothing else until you finally get an answer from him.

— Daniel “Prancer” Summers (@WFKARS) December 21, 2018

Pierson had linked to an item on her own website, titled “John McCain Still Refuses to Answer Questions About His Role in the Dossier” and dated November 2, 2017. Pierson’s tweet made reference to December 2018 discussion on the “Steele Dossier,” before reiterating the title of the November 2017 article, including the title case.

On the day Pierson sent the tweet, Roll Call reported:

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger and a longtime aide to Speaker Paul D. Ryan each were given an early look at the final report added to the infamous “Steele dossier,” court documents in a lawsuit against BuzzFeed News show.

Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who compiled the unsubstantiated research booklet in 2016 about Donald Trump’s connections to Russia before he became president, gave the report to Kinzinger and Jonathan Burks, Ryan’s longtime chief of staff, after he completed it on Dec. 13, 2016, according to the court memo.

Pierson suggested that the title of the headline had automatically populated when she sent the tweet, and hinted that the spike in traffic from angry clicks had benefited her:

You guys are so dumb. Reading the tweet is obviously difficult for you. It clearly refers to the “staffer” in today’s news headlines. lol That article is OVER A YEAR OLD ???? #RussiaHoax #trumpderangementsyndrome https://t.co/Ork5t1mmds

— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) December 21, 2018

???? Shhhh…. (let them keep clicking) They just paid for my vacation. ???? https://t.co/2lYzzMijp8

— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) December 21, 2018

Katrina Pierson’s tweet on December 20, 2018 was accurate and unaltered in the form embedded above. When it circulated in screenshots on Facebook, it looked more like Pierson was demanding answers of a deceased McCain — but it seems likelier that the imprecise wording stemmed from the automatic inclusion of the (dated) headline.

In the larger context of news about the Steele Dossier, Pierson appeared to reference mention of McCain’s staffers in connection with the document and its distribution.