Trump’s former defence secretary James Mattis denounces president

Trump's former defence secretary James Mattis denounces president
James Mattis was President Donald Trump's first defence secretary. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: In a rare public comment about Donald Trump, former Defence Secretary James Mattis has denounced the President, accusing him of stoking division and abusing his authority.

He said the president had sought to “divide” the American people and had failed to provide “mature leadership”.

He said he was “angry and appalled” by Mr Trump’s handling of recent unrest.

President Trump in response described Mr Mattis as an “overrated general” and said he was glad he had left the post.

General Mattis resigned in 2018 after Mr Trump decided to withdraw US troops from Syria. His resignation letter in December 2018 was full of implied criticism of the president’s foreign policy.

Since then, he was mostly silent, until his stinging rebuke of the Trump administration was published in The Atlantic magazine on Wednesday.

Trump claimed he had fired Mr Mattiis in a series of tweets in response to fresh criticism from his first Defence Secretary.

“I didn’t like his “leadership” style or much else about him, and many others agree,” the President wrote. “Glad he is gone!”

What did Mattis say?

Mattis wrote a column in The Atlantic where he said: “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.”

“We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” he continued.

He also addressed the recent protests across the US sparked by the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody earlier this month.

Mr Floyd died under the Minneapolis police custody on 25 May and for officers have been charged in relation to his death.

The charge against Derek Chauvin was elevated to second-degree murder on Wednesday.

Over the past nine days, vast majority of demonstrations over the past nine days have been peaceful, but some have turned violent and curfews have been imposed in a number of cities.

Mr Mattis wrote: “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… as a nation.”

The retired four-star general also condemned the use of the military in response to the protests.

He said: “Never did I dream that troops… would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”

Defense chief breaks with Trump on military action against protests

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said he does not support using military action to quell the large-scale protests across the United States triggered by the death of George Floyd.

He said on Wednesday that those forces should only be used in a law enforcement role as a last resort.

Mr Esper’s comment came after President Donald Trump recently threatened toenable military action to enforce order.

During a briefing at the Pentagon, he said: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

He also attempted to explain his use of the word “battlespace” when discussing quelling violence on the streets amid civil unrest.

“It’s something we use day in and day out … it’s part of our military lexicon that I grew up with…it’s not a phrase focused on people. In retrospect I would have used different wording,” he said.

Esper called the killing of Floyd as a “horrible crime” and acknowledged racism in the country, saying “racism is real in America, and we must all do our very best to recognize it, to confront it, and to eradicate it.”