Trump appears to blame generals for SEAL's death in Yemen raid

Trump appears to blame generals for SEAL's death in Yemen raid
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President Trump appeared to distance himself Tuesday from the controversial raid in Yemen that left one Navy SEAL dead even as he said the raid was a success.

In an interview with "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday, Trump highlighted that the mission had been in the works before he took office and said “they lost” the SEAL — apparently in reference to the generals who planned the mission.

“This was a mission that was started before I got here,” Trump said. “This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do. They came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades, I would — I believe. And they lost Ryan.”

Trump was responding to a question about criticism from the SEAL’s father.

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In an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday, the father of Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens said he refused to meet Trump when his son’s body arrived at Dover Air Force Base. He also criticized the Trump administration for using his son’s death to attack those calling for an investigation.

“Don't hide behind my son's death to prevent an investigation," said the father, William Owens.

Trump and White House press secretary Sean Spicer earlier this month said that those who criticize the raid do a disservice to the SEAL.

The elder Owens also questioned the need for the raid in the first place.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn't even barely a week into his administration?” he said. “Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?"

The operation had been planned for months dating back to the Obama administration. The military has said it wanted to wait for a moonless night to carry out the raid, which wouldn’t come until after President Obama left office, so he left the decision to Trump.

Reports have painted a chaotic scene at the raid where al Qaeda may have been tipped to the SEALs’ impending arrival. In addition to Owens, civilians were killed, and a $75 million U.S. military aircraft had to be destroyed by U.S. firepower after it crashed so that it wouldn’t fall into enemy hands.

The Pentagon is conducting three reviews into the raid, the White House confirmed Monday, following standard procedures for reviews into the death of a service member, the deaths of civilians and the destruction of hardware.

NBC News also reported Monday night at that officials said they’re unaware of an actionable intelligence the raid produced.

In Tuesday’s interview, Trump reiterated his assertion that the raid was a success.

“According to [Defense Secretary] General [James] Mattis, it was a very successful mission,” Trump said. “They got tremendous amounts of information.”

He also said it was understandable that Owens's father did not want to meet him.  

“I can understand people saying that,” Trump said. “I'd feel — you know, I'd feel, what's worse? There's nothing worse.”