Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Cutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce MORE (R-Wis.) on Monday defended retired Navy Adm. William McRaven amid the criticism he's received from President TrumpDonald TrumpPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Has Trump beaten the system? MORE

“Admiral McRaven and all members of our military who have served in harm’s way have put country before self, and we are grateful for their service," Ryan's spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, said in a statement.

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"Speaker Ryan has traveled to Afghanistan multiple times, most recently in October, and has seen our military’s service and dedication firsthand. As the holidays approach, we are especially grateful for our troops’ sacrifice."

The comments came a day after Trump dismissed McRaven, who led the operation to kill Osama bin Laden in 2011, as a "Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Shontel Brown gaining ground against Nina Turner in Ohio: poll Biden hits trail for McAuliffe in test of his political brand MORE fan" and an "Obama-backer" during an interview with Fox News. 

Trump also questioned why it took so long for the U.S. to find bin Laden, asking "wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?"

McRaven has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration. In August, he called the White House's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance "McCarthy-era tactics." 

He responded to Trump's criticism on Sunday by standing by some of his previous comments, saying that Trump's attacks on the media represent "the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime."

"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," he continued. 

He also added that he never supported a presidential candidate in the 2016 election. 

Trump on Monday defended his criticism of McRaven, tweeting that the U.S. "should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did."