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Retired Gen. McChrystal slams Trump’s ‘disturbing’ behavior toward military

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, speaks at a meeting held at the Faryab Province governor's palace, March 14, 2010. (Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O'Donald/U.S. Navy)
November 29, 2018

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently came out against President Trump for his recent remarks regarding the U.S. Military.

McChrystal recently held a discussion with Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl on ABC News’ Powerhouse Politics podcast, during which he responded to Trump’s criticism of retired Adm. William McRaven.

Listen to the audio below:

“What are we to make of a leader that speaks the way he does about very highly-regarded military leaders in this country? Adm. McRaven obviously is the most recent example,” Karl asked.

“His discussions on Bill McRaven, as well as his previous discussions on John McCain and others have been something that’s deeply disturbing to a lot of thoughtful people,” McChrystal replied. “The fact that he would take on people in this vitriolic manner, I think is pretty upsetting to people.”

“And the fact that he would be dismissive of the kinds of service that people like John McCain and others have given is also disturbing … I don’t think it builds up the kind of trust that military people depend upon,” he added.

Trump and McRaven have had several public jabs at one another. Last year, McRaven said Trump’s rhetoric toward the media was “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

Trump called McRaven a “Hillary Clinton fan” and “an Obama-backer,” then made a remark implying that Osama bin Laden could’ve been found earlier than he was. McRaven led the 2011 Pakistan raid that culminated in the killing of Osama bin Laden.

McChrystal then remarked on Trump’s support of the military, specifically Trump’s comments that he has provided more funding to the military and vets.

“That’s not the best metric of whether you support the military. The size of the defense budget is not a measure of patriotism or connection with those in service,” McChrystal said. “I don’t think that President Trump has developed as deep – a real connection of trust – with the military as perhaps he thinks he has.”

McChrystal then criticized Trump’s order for the military to support efforts on the southern border, where nearly 8,000 troops have been deployed for border strengthening efforts ahead of the U.S.-bound migrant caravan originating from Central America.

“Obviously the military do as ordered, but I think we have taken this particular situation and we have used images and mental images … to convince a lot of the American people that we have an invasion of our southern border,” McChrystal said. “I think we have inflamed this in a way that is not helpful. And so I think that is a manipulation that I’m not comfortable with.”

McChrystal is currently promoting his book, “Leaders: Myth and Reality,” in which he analyzes the leadership and ultimate success of 13 historical figures.

Klein asked McChrystal if there were any similarities between those leaders and Trump.

“Trump, he’s a populist by nature. He communicates to inflame and stimulate thinking and passions and people and that’s not a new thing. We’ve seen that in various leaders around the world,” McChrystal said. “It usually doesn’t end well, whether they are domestic politicians like Joe McCarthy or others who have simplified things and inflamed people. So there’s a cautionary tale in this.”