In a wide-ranging interview on Fox News Sunday, President Donald Trump slammed Adm. William H. McRaven, the strategist behind the raid that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden. Trump derided McRaven as a Hillary Clinton supporter and suggested that he should have carried out the raid sooner.
“He’s a Hillary Clinton backer and an Obama backer,” the President concluded about the respected military professional. “And frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we’d gotten Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?”
McRaven had previously criticized the President for his attacks on the media and for revoking former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance.
Retired Marine Col. David Lapan appeared on CNN Monday morning to set the President straight on how the chain of command works.
“I think the President’s comments show a fundamental misunderstanding of not only fundamental operations and the chain of command, but how they operated specifically in the raid to capture and kill Osama bin Laden,” he said.
“At the time, Adm. McRaven was the head of Joint Special Operations Command and he and his special operators were tasked with the mission to go into the compound in Pakistan and that order was given by the President. The decision of when to go after bin Laden was made by the President of the United States as the Commander in Chief in consultation with his national security staff. That’s very well understood.”
“So Admiral McRaven had no real say over when he was going to conduct this operation. He followed orders. And as he’s pointed out rightfully, whether the occupant of the White House is a Republican or a Democrat, he’ll follow lawful orders that he’s given,” Lapan concluded.
Asked by CNN host Jim Sciutto if he thinks the President doesn’t understand how military institutions operate or if he just doesn’t care, Lapan joked that he, like most people, has no idea what’s going on in the President’s head, but that Trump had recently demonstrated a striking ignorance of military procedure.
Yet Lapan said that as long as the President’s actions are lawful, military professionals are compelled to follow his orders.
“They’ll still carry out their duties because that’s what’s expected of them in our system.”
Fiona Hill’s attorney rips the administration: Trump ‘co-opted’ US foreign policy for his own ends
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," National Security Council official Fiona Hill's attorney, Ambassador Lee Wolosky, broke down the implications of his client's testimony.
"The phrase that she used to describe [E.U. Ambassador Gordon] Sondland's mission, a 'domestic political errand,' a lot of people have said that was a big takeaway from today, that sort of encapsulated what was going on here," said Cooper. "Does she agree?"
"Well, yeah," said Wolosky. "As she testified to, I think that what she began to notice is that, in fact, this really wasn't an irregular or shadow foreign policy effort, as some people have called it. It was actually domestic politics. She was doing national security, as were others, and foreign policy, and Sondland and Giuliani were taking steps to advance the political interests of the president. And I think that what she crystallized is how pernicious it can be when our national security and when our foreign policy decision making is basically co-opted or held hostage to the individual political interests of one individual."
‘Rudy Giuliani is the fall guy here’: CNN analyst says America’s Mayor was ‘meddling in everything’
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," political analyst Gloria Borger suggested that President Donald Trump may just decide to cut his losses on the Ukraine scandal and blame his attorney Rudy Giuliani for any wrongdoing.
"I think at this point maybe Trump needs a fall guy," said Borger. "Rudy Giuliani is the fall guy here. He's the guy who was meddling in everything. Everybody who testified seemed to make it very clear that Rudy Giuliani was doing this at the direction of the president of the United States. I think Gordon Sondland said that, what, 20 times yesterday at the direction of the president, so it's clear Rudy Giuliani wasn't freelancing, but maybe the president feels that he needs him right now."
Trump officials could not have been ‘completely clueless’ about what he was doing: CNN correspondent
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," White House correspondent Abby Phillip highlighted how Fiona Hill's testimony made the claim by other officials that they weren't aware of the scheme to extort dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden from Ukraine much less plausible.
"The idea Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election is completely unfounded," said Phillip. "This is important because it puts in context some of the other testimony we heard ... from Ambassador [Kurt] Volker and another top NSC official, Tim Morrison, who replaced Fiona Hill, that the conspiracy theory was a legitimate function of the government, it was okay for President Trump to seek that kind of investigation, was perfectly normal to them. And it wasn't until they learned 'Burisma' equaled 'Biden' they learned there was something weird or nefarious going on."