President Trump responded to the father calling for an investigation of his Navy SEAL son's death in a Yemen military raid, with the president expressing sympathy for the service member's family but defending the mission as one "that started before I got here."
"This was something that they were looking at for a long time doing," Trump said in an interview on "Fox & Friends" that aired this morning. "And according to Gen. [James] Mattis it was a very successful mission. They got tremendous amounts of information."
"This was a mission that started before I got here," the president said.
The January raid in Yemen resulted in the death of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, 36, and injuries to three other Navy SEALS. Fourteen militants were killed in the raid. U.S. Central Command also said in early February that "civilian noncombatants likely were killed," which may have included children.
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Owens' father, Bill, told the Miami Herald in a recent interview that he did not want to meet Trump when the president attended Owens' dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Feb. 1.
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Bill Owens told the Florida newspaper on Friday.
Trump said Tuesday, "They explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected we've had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan."
Trump went on to say, "I was at the airport when the casket came in, the body came in and it was a very sad with the family and it's a great family -- incredible wife and children. I met most of the family."
"And I can understand people saying that. I would feel -- I would feel, what's worse? There is nothing worse," Trump said.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during Monday's press briefing that the administration continues to be "very comfortable" with the Yemen raid.
"We're very comfortable with how the mission was executed and, you know, we'll let the Department of Defense go through that review process," Spicer said.
Spicer added there will be a three-pronged investigation done by the Department of Defense.
U.S. Central Command confirmed Sunday that what is called a 15-6 investigation into Owens' death is underway, which is standard when a deployed U.S. military service member dies. U.S. Central Command is also conducting a review known as a credibility assessment into civilian casualties during the raid.
The president in the Fox News interview on Tuesday went after Arizona Sen. John McCain for his criticism of the Yemen mission.
“I felt badly when a young man dies, and John McCain said that was a failed mission,” Trump said. “I thought it was inappropriate that he goes to foreign soil and he criticizes our government.”
ABC News' Luis Martinez and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.