Retired Adm. William McRaven said Thursday that the US is under attack from President Donald Trump, who he believes is working to “destroy” the country from “within” and “without.”
“If you want to destroy an organization, any organization, you destroy it from within, you destroy it from without and then what you do is you convince everybody that you’re doing the right thing,” McRaven told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”
“So when you take a look at what the President has done, he’s undermined the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, the Department of Justice, the State Department. He has called the press the enemy of the American people and I will tell you, I’ve fought a lot of America’s enemies. The press is not the enemy of the American people.”
McRaven, who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, added that Trump is also “undermining us from without.”
“He’s obviously left our allies the Kurds on the battlefield,” McRaven said while outlining a scathing op-ed he wrote for The New York Times. “We feel like we’ve betrayed them. He’s undermined our NATO allies, he’s taken us out of the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear agreement) and the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal) and really the international community has lost faith in America. And then throughout the course of all of this, he’s convinced us he’s doing it for all the right reasons, and I think that is really what is troubling.”
McRaven’s criticism of Trump comes as the President faces a fast-moving impeachment investigation into his contacts with Ukraine and bipartisan criticism over his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. On Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed a resolution opposing the Trump administration’s troop withdrawal.
McRaven’s comments to CNN expand on his New York Times op-ed published earlier Thursday under the headline “Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President.”
“…if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office – Republican, Democrat or independent – the sooner, the better,” he wrote. “The fate of our Republic depends upon it.”
Trump has previously dismissed criticism from McRaven, labeling him a Hillary Clinton supporter in 2018.
“He’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer,” Trump told Fox News at the time. “And, frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?”
CLARIFICATION: The headline and story have been updated to properly reflect McRaven’s statements on CNN.