Retired Admiral William McRaven, who led the operations that killed Osama bin Laden and took down Saddam Hussein, responded to President Donald Trump’s weekend criticism that he is merely a “Hillary Clinton fan” by doubling down on his own criticism of the president: "I stand by my comment that the President's attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.”
Trump dismissed McRaven as a backer of Democrats after “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace mentioned during an interview that the admiral said the president’s stance toward the media is “perhaps the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
> Via USA Today:
> "Hillary Clinton fan," Trump said, interrupting Wallace the moment the Fox News host mentioned McRaven.
> "Excuse me, Hillary Clinton fan," the president repeated, as Wallace tried to continue.
> " ... 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," Wallace said.
> "OK, he’s a Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer and frankly ... " Trump replied.
> "He was a Navy SEAL 37 years," Wallace interjected.
> Trump then pondered how "nice" it would have been "if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner" and implied finding him in Pakistan should have been easy.
In response to the president’s comments, McRaven said in a statement to CNN that he did not “back Hillary Clinton or anyone else.”
> "I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for."
> McRaven said he admires 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."
> "I stand by my comment that the President's attack on the media is 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."
McRaven has offered scathing criticism of Trump on more than one occasion, including an open letter in August in which the admiral said Trump’s actions 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 served 37 years in the Navy before retiring in 2014. A former SEAL and special forces commander, McRaven led the 2011 operation that killed bin Laden in Pakistan. And he ran the task force that hunted down former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003.
For his part, Trump has defended his comments regarding bin Laden, tweeting Monday morning that his supposed early warnings about the terrorist leader were not heeded: