President Donald Trump derided retired Adm. Bill McRaven — the Navy SEAL who led the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden — calling him a "Hillary Clinton fan" during an interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." He also said bin Laden should have been captured much sooner, though he did not explain how the Obama administration should have done so.
The president made the comments after Wallace asked him about McRaven's criticism of Trump's attacks on the press.
Last year, McRaven, who did not make an endorsement in the 2016 presidential election, called Trump's lambasting of the news media possibly "the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime" during a speech at the University of Texas. A four-star admiral who retired from the Navy in 2014, McRaven also wrote an August op-ed article calling on Trump to revoke his security clearance after the president pulled former CIA Director John Brennan's clearance.
"Hillary Clinton fan," Trump told Wallace Sunday when confronted with the retired admiral's criticism. "Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan."
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"OK, he’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer," Trump added before Wallace said McRaven had been a Navy SEAL for nearly four decades.
Trump, pointing to the bin Laden raid, added, "Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama Bin Laden a lot sooner than that. Wouldn’t it have been nice?"
"Living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer," he continued. "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 ... for years."
Wallace asked if Trump would give McRaven's team credit for "taking down bin Laden."
"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.
McRaven responded on Sunday, telling CNN that he did not support Clinton or anyone else in the 2016 election. He emphasized that partisanship did not play a role in his career.
"I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for," he told CNN. "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."
The former Navy SEAL also added that he stood by his comment that Trump's attacks on the press are "the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime."
"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," he said.
Soon after publicly rebuking the president in the August op-ed, McRaven, who led the U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014, resigned from the Pentagon’s technology advisory board.