President Trump on Monday blasted Pakistan, charging that its government helped 9/11 mastermind Usama bin Laden hide in the country as the president defended his administration’s decision to pull hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid.
He first made comments about Pakistan and its alleged lack of cooperation with the U.S. during the hunt for bin Laden during an exclusive interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“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!” Trump tweeted Monday, doubling down on his comments from over the weekend.
The president’s comments come just months after his administration moved to suspend $300 million in military aid to Pakistan for not doing enough to battle terrorist groups inside its borders. Earlier this year, the Pentagon also suspended nearly $1 billion in aid to Pakistan for what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other top officials said at the time was Islamabad’s failure to take on the Haqqani terrorist network.
“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 the many countries that take from the United States without giving anything in return. That’s ENDING!” Trump tweeted minutes later.
During his exclusive interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday, Trump also launched a war of words against retired Navy SEAL and Special Operations commander Adm. William H. McRaven, who oversaw the mission to kill bin Laden in 2011. McRaven, earlier this year, condemned the president for calling the media the “enemy of the people,” suggesting it was “perhaps the greatest threat to democracy” in his lifetime.
In the interview, when asked about McRaven’s comments, Trump called him a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama backer,” and criticized him for not finding bin Laden earlier.
“Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Usama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Trump said.
“You know, living—think of this—living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer,” Trump said, referring to bin Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The compound was demolished shortly after the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a late-night helicopter raid, killed bin Laden there in 2011.
“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” Trump said. “And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year….[bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year—which we don’t give them anymore, by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us. They don’t do a damn thing for us.”
After the interview, in a statement to CNN, McRaven said he “did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else.”
“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,” McRaven told CNN. “I stand by my comment that the President’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.”
He added: “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.”
McRaven recently stepped down as chancellor of the University of Texas amid a battle with leukemia.
On Twitter Sunday, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell defended McRaven.
“Correction needed to POTUS’s comment today that McRaven should have found bin Laden sooner. CIA did the ‘finding.’ McRaven’s special operators did the ‘getting.’ They moved within days of President Obama giving the order,” Morell tweeted.
Fox News' Gregg Re and Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.