McRaven Reiterates Defense Of Free Press After Trump Jab

Former Admiral William McRaven discusses special operations and the CIA during a daylong symposium "The President's Daily Brief" that gave insight into the delivery of intelligence to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960's.  The CIA today declassified 2,500 documents from the Kennedy and Johnson years.
Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis News

The retired admiral who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 repeated his criticisms of President Donald Trump on Sunday after the President attacked him an interview.

“I stand by my comment that the President’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime,” Retired Adm. Bill McRaven said in a statement to CNN, referring to a speech he gave last year. “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.”

In the speech last year, delivered shortly after Trump’s inauguration, McRaven said Trump’s assertion that the news media “is the enemy of the American people” was perhaps “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace, in an interview with Trump taped Friday and aired Sunday, brought up McRaven’s assessment.

“Hillary Clinton fan,” Trump interjected as Wallace brought up McRaven’s comments. “He’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer.”

“He was a Navy SEAL,” Wallace responded.

“Frankly,” 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?”

McRaven, in his statement to CNN, said “I 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,” he continued. “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.”

McRaven’s criticisms of Trump didn’t stop with his speech last year. After Trump revoked former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance in August, McRaven wrote in a blistering Washington Post op-ed: “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.”

He added: “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.”

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