Though he has been largely quiet since resigning from the Trump administration in 2018, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis excoriated the president over his response to ongoing nationwide protests.
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“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “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. 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.”
He went on to describe Trump as a president who “does not even pretend to try” to unite the nation amid such civil unrest.
“We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” Mattis wrote.
He called on citizens to “unite without” Trump in the absence of that leadership — and even as the president threatens to deploy U.S. military troops on American soil.
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis wrote. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”