President Donald Trump had some choice words in response to a retired Navy SEAL’s criticism during an interview with host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
During a speech at the University of Texas last year, retired Adm. William McRaven, who oversaw the SEAL Team Six operation that killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, told journalism students, “We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people. This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
During Sunday’s interview, President Trump scoffed at McRaven’s criticisms, dismissing the retired SEAL as a “Hillary Clinton fan” and “Obama backer.”
“Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan," reasserted Trump, interrupting Wallace.
“He was a Navy SEAL for 37 years,” Wallace interjected, prompting a quick retort from Trump.
“Frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?" the president said. “Wouldn’t it have been nice?
“Think of this," Trump continued. "Living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion — I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer — but living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there. And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year and they don’t tell him, they don’t tell him?”
“You’re not even going to give them credit for taking down bin Laden?" Wallace asked.
“They took him down but — look, look, there’s news right there — he lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year, which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” Trump said.
After former CIA Director John Brennan was stripped of his security clearance in August, McRaven, who commanded the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014, penned a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post to say he would “consider it an honor” for the president to revoke his security clearance as well, “so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”
“A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization," McRaven wrote. “A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself. Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”
McRaven resigned from his position on the Pentagon’s technology advisory board shortly after his letter was published.
Watch the president’s full interview with Chris Wallace here.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.