In response to Bill Owens, the father calling for an investigation of his Navy SEAL son’s death in a Yemen military raid, President Trump expressed sympathy for the service member’s family but defending the mission as one “that started before I got here.”
“This was something that they were looking at for a long time doing,” the president said in an interview with “Fox & Friends” that aired this morning. “And according to Gen. [James] Mattis it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information.”
“This was a mission that started before I got here,” said Trump.
The January raid in Yemen resulted in the death of 36-year-old Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, and injuries to three other Navy SEALS. Fourteen militants were killed in the raid. U.S. Central Command also said in early February that “civilian non-combatants likely were killed,” and that may have included children.
During Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the administration continues to be “very comfortable” with the Yemen raid.
“We’re very comfortable with how the mission was executed and, you know, we’ll let the Department of Defense go through that review process,” Spicer said. He added that the Department of Defense will conduct a three-pronged investigation.
US Central Command confirmed on Sunday that there is what is called a 15-6 investigation underway into Owens’ death, which is standard for the death of any deployed US military service member. US Central Command is also conducting a review known as a credibility assessment into civilian casualties during the raid.
Owens’ father told the Miami Herald in a recent interview that he did not want to meet President Trump when he attended Owens’ dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on February 1.
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Bill Owens told the newspaper on Friday. He also called for an investigation into his son’s death and said he was troubled by Trump’s treatment of the Khans, a Gold Star family of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq.
On Tuesday, in the interview with Fox News, Trump said “I was at the airport when the casket came in, the body came in and it was a very sad with the family and it’s a great family – incredible wife and children. I met most of the family,” He continued, “And I can understand people saying that. I would feel — I would feel what’s worse? There is nothing worse.”
The president in the Fox News interview on Tuesday went after Arizona Sen. John McCain for his criticism of the Yemen mission.
“I felt badly when a young man dies, and John McCain said that was a failed mission,” Trump said. “I thought it was inappropriate that he goes to foreign soil and he criticizes our government.”