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Gold Star dad blames Trump for son's death in ad ahead of convention speech

 ·  Zack Budryk, The Hill   ·   Link to Article

The left-leaning veterans group VoteVets released a “pre-buttal” to President Trump’s Republican National Convention address Thursday evening, featuring the father of the first service member to die in combat under the Trump administration.

“Just five days into his presidency, Trump ordered Ryan’s SEAL team into Yemen,” Mike Owens says in the ad. “Not from the situation room, with all the intelligence assembled, but sitting across a dinner table from Steve Bannon.”

Owens’s son William was killed Jan. 29, 2017, in Yakla, Yemen, in a raid targeting al-Qaeda leader Qasim al-Raymi. William Owens was the only American killed, and between 10 and 30 civilians and 14 al-Qaeda fighters also died in the raid.

“There was no vital interest at play, just Donald Trump playing big man going to war,” Owens adds. The Gold Star dad goes on to accuse the president of “demean[ing] my son’s sacrifice to play to the crowd.”

“For nearly four years, Trump has assailed our county’s core values,” he says as his audio plays over footage of the president posing with a Bible after clearing racial justice protesters from Lafayette Square. The scene then appears to shift to federal officers in Portland, Ore., attacking a Navy veteran.

Owens goes on to blast the president’s response to reports of Russia placing bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The New York Times reported in June that a Russian military unit was offering rewards to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan to kill U.S. service members. At the time, the White House said it did not take action on the intelligence it received about the bounties because officials did not consider it to be credible enough to share with the president. 

The Trump administration has also come under fire from critics as it has struggled to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Opponents such as former Vice President Joe Biden have said that the Trump administration could have done more to contain the pandemic before a widespread outbreak began in the U.S. 

“Two hundred thousand Americans will have died before we vote,” he says. “They and Ryan have one thing in common: it didn’t have to be, but for Donald Trump.”

“Don’t trust Donald Trump with your kid’s life, or your own,” he concludes.

As of Thursday evening, the U.S. has more than 5.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 180,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.