Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, retired four-star General David Petraeus rebuked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her assertion that it would be “highly inappropriate” to question a four-star general.
“I think we’re all fair game,” Petraeus, who is also the former director of the CIA, told ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
“We, in uniform, protect the rights of those to criticize us, frankly,” he added.
Last Friday during a press briefing, Sanders addressed the growing fallout after White House chief of staff John Kelly erroneously claimed that Florida Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson claimed credit for securing “$20 million” in federal funding to build a new FBI field office in Miami in 2015. While it’s true that Wilson took credit for heading the legislation that named the FBI building after two FBI agents who were killed in a 1986 shootout, she did not claim credit for the building’s funding.
“If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, that’s something that’s highly inappropriate,” Sanders replied to a reporter during the Friday briefing.
On Sunday, Petraeus harkened back to his 2007 testimony before Congress regarding the Iraq war surge, when anti-war activists attacked him in the press.
“I remember opening The New York Times on the morning of the big testimony on the surge at the 6-month mark, and there was a full-page ad attacking me personally,” he said. “I didn’t appreciate it, needless to say … But at the end of the day, we are fiercely protective of the rights of Americans to express themselves — even if that includes criticizing us.”
When asked about Kelly’s “very harsh words” directed at congresswoman Wilson, Petraeus said the incident was “unfortunate.”
“We need to unite behind our Gold Star families, to embrace them with compassion and with support — not to drag them into partisan politics” Petraeus replied.
Watch a clip from the segment below. You can watch Petraeus’s full interview here.
Petraeus on White House's claim it's "inappropriate" to debate general: "We in uniform protect the rights of others to criticize us frankly" pic.twitter.com/tRlPtqqSH2
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) October 22, 2017
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