In a stinging rebuke, Former Defense Secretary James Mattis criticized President Trump's response to peaceful protests, saying he is "the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership."
Mattis, a retired Marine general, resigned in 2018 in response to Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from eastern Syria. He broke his silence on Trump's behavior Wednesday, telling The Atlantic in a statement that watching protesters get tear gassed in Lafayette Square and hearing Trump threaten to use the military to crush demonstrations left him "angry and appalled."
The protests are "defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation," he said. The forceful removal of demonstrators in Lafayette Square for Trump's "bizarre" photo op in front of St. John's Church was an "abuse of executive authority," he said, and "we must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution."
The country can still come together without Trump, "drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society," Mattis said. It won't be easy, "but we owe it to our fellow citizens, to past generations that bled to defend our promise, and to our children." Read more at The Atlantic.