Former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, says he’s “angry and appalled” by the way President Trump is handling the George Floyd protests, saying Trump has deliberately worked to divide Americans and now we are “witnessing the consequences” after three years with out “mature leadership.”
Mattis served as the 26th Secretary of Defense under the Trump Administration from Jan. 2017 to Dec. 2018. He resigned saying his views were not aligned with the President in regards to how things were being handled in Syria.
Mattis released a scathing new statement saying that Trump’s abuse of power in using the military for his own purposes goes against the Constitution. He 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.”
On June 1, Trump used military forces to clear a path of peaceful protesters by using tear gas and rubber bullets so that he could walk to the Historical St. John’s Church and take a photo out front holding a bible. Pentagon personnel were with him, including the current Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who has tried to distance himself from the confounding move by the President. Esper told NBC, “I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops.”
In response to that media stunt and Trump’s leadership over the years, which Mattis says led to the discord we have seen around the nation for the last nine days, the former Secretary of Defense released a statement calling out the President’s ability to lead. You can read the full statement here.
In part, Mattis 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.
I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. 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. 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.
The President responded to Matt’s statement with a Tweet thread, saying Mattis “seldom brought home the bacon” and that he fired him, which is the only thing he and Barack Obama have in common.
Several Other Prominent People Are Condemning Trump’s Improper Use of the Military and Lack of Leadership Amid the Nation’s Ongoing Turmoil
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, wrote a statement published in the Atlantic:
It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president’s visit outside St. John’s Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.
Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.
Baker, who is a Republican said:
I heard what the president said today about ‘dominating’ and ‘fighting.’ I know I should be surprised when I hear incendiary words like this from him, but I’m not. At so many times during these past several weeks, when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found. Instead, we got bitterness, combativeness and self-interest. That’s not what we need in Boston, it’s not what we need right now in Massachusetts, and it’s definitely not what we need across this great country of ours either.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, nicknamed, “The People’s Champion,” released an Instagram video imploring President Trump to stand up With the protesters and lead With compassion.
Johnson said in Part:
At this time, this time when our country is down. Begging pleading hurt, angry, frustrated, in pain, begging and pleading with the times just wanting to be heard, begging and pleading and praying for change. Where are you? Where is our compassionate leader who’s going to step up to our country, who’s down on its knees and extend the hand and say you stand up, stand up with me — stand up with me because I got you, I got you, I got you, I hear you. I’m listening to you. And you have my word that I’m going to do everything in my power until my dying day my last breath to do everything I can to create the change that is needed to normalize equality because black lives matter.
“Where are you?” He asks repeatedly in the video.
The Rock & Mattis Both Say It’s Time to Unite as a Nation Even Without Trump’s Leadership
In Mattis’s statement, he speaks of the nation’s hard-won past for our freedoms and civilized society and that we must preserve what the United States stands for and pass it along to future generations.
Mattis said, “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.”
“We do not need to militarize our response to protests,” Mattis said. “We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law. We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another.”
The Rock said people are waiting for a leader to emerge that will help to start to heal the country, but until that leadership happens, he said, “I recommend to all of you that we must become the leaders we’re looking for. We become our own leaders because we’re doing it now. We’re doing it now. We must become the leaders, we are looking for.”