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William McRaven: President must trust military leaders

November 30, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas He steered clear of directly firing back at President Trump, but retired Adm. William McRaven the architect of the 2011 U.S. special operations mission that killed Osama bin Laden told an audience here Friday that military leadership is impossible without the full trust of the commander in chief.

His comments at the annual Texas National Security Forum come amid a simmering feud with Mr. Trump, which has driven a wedge between the White House and some well-respected members of the military and U.S. intelligence community.

While he never mentioned the president by name, Mr. McRaven preached unity between the military and political leadership.

“If the president of the United States doesn’t trust you, if the secretary of defense doesn’t trust you ... if your leaders don’t trust you, you will never be able to lead,” Mr. McRaven said.

Mr. McRaven has criticized the president’s attacks on the press, and over the summer he asked the White House to revoke his security clearance after Mr. Trump moved to cancel the clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, another frequent foe of the president.

Mr. Trump responded by dubbing Mr. McRaven a “Hillary Clinton fan” and suggested the former special operations chief should’ve found bin Laden sooner.

“Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Mr. Trump told “Fox News Sunday” earlier this month.

Mr. McRaven stood by his criticism of the president and said Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press hurt the country.

“I stand by my comment that the President’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime,” he said earlier this month. “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.”

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