White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that critics of the recent Yemen raid, including Senator John McCain, should apologize for not calling it a “success,” but the Arizona Republican immediately rejected the idea.
“I don’t need to listen to that,” the Senate Armed Services chairman said after watching a video of Spicer’s rebuke Wednesday on a reporter’s phone. “My record speaks for itself.”
It’s the latest dustup between the White House and McCain, who has sparred with the Trump administration on assorted issues including Russia and trade policy. But Spicer’s remarks also suggested the administration is trying to portray criticism of its military decisions as a broader attack on the U.S. armed forces.
Spicer said on Wednesday that the raid was “absolutely a success. And I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens. He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anybody who would suggest otherwise, doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was, what the information that they were able to retrieve was and how that will help prevent future terrorist attacks.”
Owens was killed in the raid, as was an eight-year-old U.S. citizen — the daughter of former al Qaeda strategist Anwar al-Awlaki, an American killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. McCain told reporters on Tuesday that the raid was a “failure” and later put out a clarifying statement saying he wouldn’t describe it “as a success” because of Owens’s death.
Asked about McCain specifically, Spicer added on Wednesday: “I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid, owes an apology and disservice to the life of Chief Owens.”
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