United States President Donald Trump on Sunday attacked the special forces officer who planned the 2011 raid in Pakistan during which al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed, CNN reported. Trump criticised the military for not having killed the terrorist leader sooner.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump described retired Admiral William McRaven as being a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama fan”, when he was asked about McRaven’s criticism of the president’s attacks on the press. “He’s a Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama-backer, and frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that?” asked Trump. “Wouldn’t it have been nice?”

McRaven, a four-star admiral who retired in 2014, is an outspoken critic of the US president and last year called Trump’s attacks on the news media possibly “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime”. On Sunday, McRaven stood by his comment. “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,” he added.

McRaven said he did not back Hillary Clinton or any other candidate in the 2016 presidential race and added that he is a fan of Obama and former President George W Bush, having served under both of them. “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,” he said.

VoteVets, an organisation of US service veterans, criticised Trump’s remark. “In attacking the service of Admiral William McRaven, a decorated Navy SEAL who served his nation for 37 years, Donald Trump has again proven that he does not respect or value our military heroes,” it tweeted.