Jim Mattis, the former secretary of defense of the Trump administration, fired off a scathing criticism of President Donald Trump over the response to nationwide protests and rioting.
“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis said in the statement Wednesday.
“Donald Trump 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,” Mattis said. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
Mattis defended the protesters by excoriating efforts to paint the broad movement with the criminal actions of a smaller number of rioters and looters.
“The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding,” Mattis explained.
“It is a wholesome and unifying demand–one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. 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 added.
Mattis also criticized the federal call to have the military bring order to the riots on American soil.
We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict–a false conflict–between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.
“We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” he concluded.
Here’s what Mattis said previously about the admin he left:
James Mattis on why he left the Trump administration but won’t criticize it