William McRaven, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, waged new criticisms of President Donald Trump on Friday following Trump’s decision to replace acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
McRaven characterized Maguire’s departure from the White House as the latest in a line of advisors to the president who ended up at odds with the Commander in Chief. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, McRaven said “in this administration, good men and women don’t last long.”
Last week Trump named Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany and special envoy to Serbia and Kosovo, as the new acting Director of National Intelligence to replace Maguire.
At the time, rumors circulated that Trump had taken issue with Maguire over a Congressional intelligence briefing. Anonymous sources familiar with the briefing claimed that intelligence officials warned Russia was attempting to interfere in the 2020 election to benefit Trump’s reelection effort.
“Joe was dismissed for doing his job: overseeing the dissemination of intelligence to elected officials who needed that information to do their jobs,” McRaven wrote, referencing the early claims from the briefing, which suggested Trump fired Maguire out of anger for the apparent disloyalty in the briefing.
“As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation,” McRaven continued. “When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.”
McRaven’s criticisms came even as Trump administration officials denied Maguire was removed as a result of the intelligence briefing.
U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has since refuted the claims of Russian interference efforts to expressly benefit Trump’s campaign. O’Brien said is well informed of intelligence matters in his current position and has seen no indications of a Russian effort to meddle in the election on Trump’s behalf.
O’Brien also countered claims that Trump sought to remove Maguire as an angry reaction to the briefing and said Maguire was scheduled to conclude his time as acting Director of National Intelligence in March. O’Brien said the decision to bring on Grenell for the acting role was a decision based on the fact that he had already passed a senate confirmation process to serve as an ambassador.
McRaven has been a vocal critic of Trump in the past. In a February 2017 speech reported by the Washington Post, McRaven criticized Trump’s open criticism of several press outlets and said: “this sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
In 2018, McRaven joined criticism Trump for revoking former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance and called on Trump to do the same against him. At the time, Trump accused Brennan of abusing his high level access to “sow division and chaos,” in his administration.
McRaven instead described Brennan as “a man of unparalleled integrity.” In his op-ed McRaven wrote, “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.”
In another op-ed in October of last year, McRaven criticized Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria and said “it is time for a new person in the Oval Office.”