President Trump hit longtime critic John McCain in a series of tweets early Thursday morning, following the Arizona senator’s comments about the recent “failure” of a raid in Yemen, which killed a U.S. military service member and at least 30 others.
The president lambasted the Republican veteran for talking about the Navy SEAL Team 6 mission, saying it “only emboldens the enemy.” Mr. Trump declared that McCain, a six-term senator and former presidential nominee, had been “losing so...long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.”
Mr. Trump also claimed that the covert operation in Yemen where U.S. commando William Ryan Owens was killed was a “winning” mission -- an assessment he said was given by Defense Secretary James Mattis:
The president’s comments came after McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, called the raid “a failure” in comments to reporters earlier this week on Capitol Hill. A statement released after those comments by McCain pointed out that he would not describe it as “a success.”
“Every military operation has objectives,” McCain’s statement read. “And while many of the objectives of the recent raid in Yemen were met, I would not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success.”
When White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a briefing Wednesday that “anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology,” McCain pushed back in his response.
In a statement to NBC, the Republican senator, who is no stranger to Mr. Trump’s critiques of his own military record, recounted his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“Many years ago when I was imprisoned in North Vietnam there was an attempt to rescue the POWs,” McCain said. “Unfortunately the prison had been evacuated but the brave men who took -- risked their lives in an effort to rescue us prisoners of war were genuine American heroes.”
“Because the mission failed did not in any way diminish their courage and willingness to help their fellow Americans who were held captive,” the senator went on. “Mr. Spicer should know that story.”