President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE on Monday defended his criticism of retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, repeating his belief the U.S. should have killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden sooner.
"Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did," Trump tweeted.
The president repeated his dubious claim that he called for taking out bin Laden in his 2000 book, writing that "President Clinton famously missed his shot," and accused Pakistan of dropping the ball on finding the 9/11 mastermind despite billions in U.S. aid.
"Fools!" the president wrote.
He also threatened to cut off support for Afghanistan, where U.S. forces are still fighting in a war 17 years after bin Laden used the country as a base to launch the 9/11 attacks.
"We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another," the president wrote in a subsequent tweet. "They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!"
Of course we should have captured Osama Bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just BEFORE the attack on the World Trade Center. President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan Billions of Dollars & they never told us he was living there. Fools!..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2018
....We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us, Bin Laden being a prime example, Afghanistan being another. They were just one of many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2018
The comments are one day after Trump escalated his war of words against McRaven, a retired Navy SEAL and special operations commander who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden, calling him a "Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE fan" and an "Obama-backer" who should have gotten to bin Laden faster.
"Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?" Trump said during an interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."
Trump's comments have set off a firestorm of controversy for the president, whose handling of the military has come under fire despite his professed support for the armed forces.
Republican Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Democrats face bleak outlook in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit MORE (Fla.) on Monday praised McRaven, saying his political views were irrelevant to his legacy.
"I don’t know if Adm. William McRaven shares my political views or not. But I do know that few Americans have sacrificed or risked more than he has to protect America & the freedoms we enjoy," Rubio tweeted. "His military career exemplified honor & excellence. I am grateful for his service."
McRaven first criticized Trump last year, urging the president not to refer to the news media as the "enemy of the people." The retired admiral stood by those comments on Sunday, saying he believes 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 said in a statement to CNN.
"I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else," McRaven added. "I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times."
Updated at 11:02 a.m.