President Donald Trump and retired Adm. William McRaven lashed out at one another over the weekend.
McRaven fired back at the President after comments Trump made during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, during which he dismissed McRaven’s credibility as a “Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer.”
The exchange began when Wallace asked Trump to respond to McRaven’s comments made last year.
Watch the video below:
“Bill McRaven, retired admiral, Navy SEAL, 37 years, former head of U.S. Special Operations,” Wallace began.
“Hillary Clinton fan,” Trump interrupted.
“Special Operations…” Wallace continued.
“Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan,” Trump repeated.
Wallace continued, saying, “… who led the operations, commanded the operations that took down Saddam Hussein and that killed Osama bin Laden, says that your sentiment is the greatest threat to democracy in his lifetime.”
“OK, he’s a Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer and frankly,” Trump started.
Wallace interrupted, saying of McRaven, “He was a Navy SEAL 37 years.”
Trump continued by remarking how it would’ve “been nice” if Osama bin Laden was found and killed earlier than he was, and seemingly implied that Pakistan harbored bin Laden for quite some time.
President Trump dismisses retired Adm. William McRaven, the overseer of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, as a “Hillary Clinton backer” and criticizes the military for having not killed bin Laden sooner https://t.co/TYX7NRJcM6 pic.twitter.com/ipJZhdsGud
— CNN (@CNN) November 18, 2018
McRaven responded to President Trump’s comments just hours later.
“I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else,” McRaven told CNN on Sunday. “I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times.”
Then, McRaven doubled down on his initial criticism of President Trump.
“I stand by my comment that the President’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime,” McRaven told CNN. “When you undermine the people’s right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands.”
Adm. McRaven responds: “I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office … I stand by my comment that the President’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.” https://t.co/VRvAEaA0l1
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 19, 2018
McRaven made his initial comments in February 2017 during an exchange with journalism students at the University of Texas – Austin, which he wrote about in a UT blog post.
“Among the group were some bright aspiring young journalists who – I am sure – were troubled by the President’s recent Tweet describing the news media as ‘the enemy of the American people.’ I told them that not only did I disagree with that sentiment; I viewed it as perhaps the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime,” McRaven wrote at the time.
This past August, McRaven again wrote publicly in criticism of Trump after former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance was revoked.
“I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,” McRaven wrote in an open letter published by The Washington Post.
McRaven retired in 2014 as a four-star Admiral after 37 years in the Navy. He was the special forces commander in charge of the 2011 Pakistan raid that culminated in the killing of Osama bin Laden. He also headed the 2003 task force charged with finding Saddam Hussein.