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Former top special operations commander says Trump "needs to be held accountable"

Texts reveal White House pressure on Ukraine
Texts reveal Trump administration pressure on Ukraine 03:01

Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven, the former top commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, believes President Trump "needs to be held accountable" for taking actions that don't uphold the "dignity" of the office of the presidency, he said in an interview with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in a special taping of "The Takeout" podcast at the Texas Tribune Festival.

"Every public servant who fails to do things that are moral, legal, and ethical, ought to be held accountable," said McRaven, who served under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. McRaven is credited with organizing and overseeing the special operations raid which led to the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, while McRaven was commander of Joint Special Operations Command.

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McRaven contrasted Bush and Obama with Mr. Trump, saying that while he didn't often agree with Mr. Trump's predecessors, they always "upheld the dignity of the office of the president of the United States."

"My concern with this president is ... I know that the things that he has done has not really comported with the dignity of the office of the president of the United States," McRaven said, pointing to Mr. Trump's call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in July, when he urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

However, McRaven stopped short of callling for Mr. Trump's impeachment, saying that that is a decision that must be made by Congress. The House has formally launched an impeachment inquiry against the president.

McRaven criticized Mr. Trump's "loose association with the truth," and accused him of lying to the American public.

"The danger is, we lead the country down a path that no longer is this kind of beacon that the world is looking for," McRaven said.

In November, Mr. Trump targeted McRaven, accusing him of supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and faulting him for not capturing bin Laden sooner.

McRaven told CNN at the time that he was a "fan" of both Bush and Obama, having served under both of them, and said that he did not back anyone in the 2016 election.

"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," McRaven said.

McRaven has also frequently criticized Mr. Trump for attacking the press.

For more of Major's conversation with William McRaven, download "The Takeout" podcast on  iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Katiana Krawchenko, Jamie Benson and Sara Cook
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