A senior White House spokeswoman said Sunday that she thinks President Trump will support an investigation requested by the father of William “Ryan” Owens, a Navy SEAL, of his death during a raid on al-Qaida last month in Yemen.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the principal White House deputy secretary, offered that assessment during an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week” in which she was asked to respond to a request by Bill Owens in a Miami Herald interview for an investigation of his son’s death.
“I haven’t had the chance to speak with him directly about that, but I would imagine that he would be supportive of that,” Sanders said of Trump.
The raid — billed as an intelligence-gathering operation on the militant group — turned into an hour-long gunfight as Navy SEALs and troops from the United Arab Emirates clashed with well-entrenched al-Qaida fighters. Owens reportedly died in the exchange of gunfire. Five other service members were wounded by hostile fire and a hard landing after a Marine transport aircraft crashed near the raid site.
Sanders said that as a parent, she can’t imagine the loss Owens’ parents are facing.
“I know that he paid the ultimate sacrifice when he went on that mission,” Sanders said of the younger Owens, a chief petty officer in the Navy. “And I know that the mission has a lot of different critics, but it did yield a substantial amount of very important intel and resources that helped save American lives and other lives.”
In the Miami Herald interview, Bill Owens said he avoided a chance to meet with Trump when the president and his daughter Ivanka Trump came to Dover Air Force Base to pay his respects to Owens’ family.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that the president was on his way from Washington, according to the Herald. “I told them I don’t want to meet the president.”
In the interview with the paper, Owens said, “The government owes my son an investigation.”
It’s not clear what such an inquiry would entail. The Defense Department routinely reviews missions that result in death.
Efforts by The Washington Post to reach Bill Owens on Sunday were unsuccessful. Sanders did not respond to a request later in the day Sunday to elaborate on what might be involved.
In recent weeks, White House officials have steadfastly defended the raid as a success.