Roberta McCain, mother of Sen.
She is expected to attend the formal ceremony at the US Capitol honoring her son's life and service to the nation on Friday morning.
The former aviator who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and returned home to launch a respected political career that saw him win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, will be buried Sunday at the US Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis, Maryland. He died August 25 at age 81.
The audience included McCain's 106-year-old mother Roberta and other members of his family, as well as 40 members of the Senate, former lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence.
McCain's flag-draped casket was carried up the marble steps of the Capitol by members of the US armed forces as the skies erupted in a sudden downpour. His family waited atop the Capitol steps.
In the Capitol service, McCain was lauded by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who began by joking that McCain was so stubborn that his Senate colleagues sometimes needed a support group. But despite their political differences, the former vice president said he views McCain as a brother.
"This is one of the bravest souls our nation has ever produced", Ryan said. "The president's actions in the first day of (McCain's) death were so petty", Zelizer said.
"With John, it was never feigned disagreement", he added.
When you think of this man you've lost, "and a smile comes to your lip before a tear to your eye, that's when you know", he said. "He just relished the fight". Kalish told The Associated Press, "I respect him for what he gave for this country".
The absence of Trump - who on Friday will travel to one of his private golf clubs for a campaign fundraiser - reflected the animosity between the two men that lingered even after McCain's death on Saturday from brain cancer. Fitzgerald was reportedly asked by Cindy McCain, wife of the late senator, a few months ago to speak at the service after a visit to the McCain ranch in Cornville, Arizona. Lindsey Graham. While in the chamber, Cindy McCain sat in her husband's chair.
Biden noted that McCain died of the same kind of cancer that killed his son Joseph "Beau" Biden III and the two politicians' mutual friend Sen. On Saturday, there will be another memorial service for Senator McCain, this time at the Washington National Cathedral.
The memorial stop will provide another contrast with Mr. Trump in McCain's carefully designed funeral procession.
Pence represented the Trump administration.
Earlier this week, the American flag atop the White House that had been at half-staff was raised back up, then lowered again after Mr Trump drew fire from Congress and veterans.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, a close friend of McCain and a fellow Vietnam veteran, saluted McCain's casket and solemnly rapped on it with his knuckles.
After the ceremony, a long crowd of invited mourners filed past the casket, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Hollywood stars Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Repubican Sen.
"Tonight more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama", McCain said at the time.
Trump obtained deferments during the Vietnam War for his college education and for bone spurs in his heels. It is the last event in Washington, where McCain lived and worked over four decades, and part of McCain's five-day, cross-country funeral procession.