In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Donald Trump lashed out at retired Admiral William McRaven, who commanded the 2011 raid that killed terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden. The president slammed the four-star admiral and Navy SEAL as a “Hillary Clinton fan,” and said it would have “been nice” if Bin Laden had been killed “sooner,” according to an Axios account of Trump’s interview, which was conducted by Chris Wallace of Fox News.
Trump also commented on the quality of the residence in Abbotobad, Pakistan, that had been used as a hideaway by Bin Laden, and where he was killed by Navy SEALs. According to New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin, Trump said, “I’ve seen nicer.”
McRaven has been publicly critical of Trump, saying the following in an open letter to Trump sent in August, as the Military Times reported.
“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 wrote in the letter, quoted by Military Times. “If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.”
In the Sunday interview, Wallace began to ask Trump for his response to McRaven’s criticisms, but as Wallace was stating the highlights of McRaven’s lengthy military résumé — including his command of operations that killed Bin Laden and deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — Trump twice interjected, saying, “Hillary Clinton fan!” MediaIte recounted.
“OK, he’s a Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer,” Trump said. “Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama Bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living — think of this — 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.”
Trump on retired Navy SEAL Adm. Bill McRaven, who has called the president's attacks on the press "the greatest threat to democracy."— Axios (@axios) November 18, 2018
"He's a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer. And frankly, wouldn't it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?" pic.twitter.com/tXsZHjJzaA
When Wallace asked Trump if he was refusing to give the Navy SEALs and United States intelligence community “credit” for the operation that killed Bin Laden, Trump did not respond directly, saying only, “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 was referring to his decision in January to freeze all military aid to Pakistan, as Vox reported. Wallace noted in the interview that McRaven did not endorse Clinton.