On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked at a news briefing about criticism of the raid, including comments by McCain, who said he could not describe the operation as a “success” earlier in the day. The disastrous operation left a US service member and 30 civilians, including an 8-year-old American girl dead.
“It’s absolutely a success, Spicer said. “I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does a disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens,” he added.
Spicer’s comments are a shift in his analysis of last month’s operation. Last week, he hesitated to call the raid “a success.” Trump personally ordered the raid without proper intelligence, according to the military.
Before Spicer’s briefing, McCain criticized the raid, citing the loss of life.
“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,” he said in a statement.
When he was asked about McCain’s comments at the briefing, Spicer descended into a ‘bait-and-switch mode, saying he had a “message” for anybody who said the mission was not a success:
“I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology … to the life of Chief Owens,” Spicer said.
You read that right. The Trump administration wants an apology from anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their “alternative facts.”
The January raid resulted in a number of civilian casualties, including an 8-year-old American girl.
It remains unclear to what extent fallout from the raid may have impacted the US relationship with Yemen. This week, reports emerged that the government of Yemen would not allow US military raids in the country without full approval.
Tuesday’s difference of opinion on the deadly raid was not the first time this week that McCain and the White House have differed.
In an interview that aired over the weekend, Trump responded to a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s human rights abuses by saying, “You think our country’s so innocent?”
McCain took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to rebuke Putin as a human rights abuser in response to Trump’s praise of the Russian dictator.