CNN political commentator Van Jones on Tuesday was left in awe by one moment during President Donald Trump’s joint address to Congress: when he honored the widow of William “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL who was killed during a raid in Yemen.
“He became president of the United States in that moment, period,” Jones said on CNN. “That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics. Period.”
During his address, Trump acknowledged Carryn Owens, who was sitting next to his daughter, Ivanka. Trump said he had spoken with Defence Secretary James Mattis, who he said told him that Owens was “part of a highly successful raid” that had yielded significant intelligence, contrary to reports that emerged over the previous 24 hours.
“Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity,” Trump said, triggering a second, lengthy standing ovation for Carryn Owens, who became overcome with emotion.
“He did something extraordinary,” Jones said. “For people who have been hoping that he would become unifying, hoping that he might find some way to become presidential, they should be happy with that moment. For people who have been hoping that maybe he would remain a divisive cartoon, which he often finds a way to do, they should begin to become a little bit worried tonight.
“Because that thing you just saw him do, if he finds a way to do that over and over again, he’s going to be there for eight years,” Jones continued.
The aftermath of the Yemen raid, one of the first missions signed off on as commander in chief, has proved controversial. Owens’ father, Bill, criticised Trump in an interview last weekend, saying he should not “hide” behind Ryan’s death and provide answers about what went wrong in the raid, which also left an 8-year-old girl and almost 30 civilians dead.
Watch the moment below:
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