Former Secretary of Defense, Marine General James Mattis wrote a statement in The Atlantic denouncing President Trump and his approach to stopping the violence and looting among the peaceful protests. Mattis wrote: “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.”
He added: “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. 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 was appointed the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Defense by a 98-1 vote in the Senate with only Sen. D-NY Kirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand voting against the appointment. His nomination required a waiver of the National Security Act of 1947, which requires a seven-year waiting period before retired military personnel can assume the role of secretary of defense. Mattis was only the second secretary of defense to receive such a waiver. This waiver was Gillibrand’s reason for voting against the appointment.
Mattis’ statement was published shortly after former President Barack Obama’s Town Hall on Racial Justice & Police Reform with hosted by My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of the Obama Foundation, which marks the first time he has spoken out publicly about the protests that are playing out across the country. Most notably Obama said: “I’m urging every mayor in this country to review your use-of-force policies with members of your community and to commit to reforms”. He also added: “We need those in positions of power to say that this is a priority”.
Shortly after that, the President took to Twitter with this tweet about Mattis:
…His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations. I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom “brought home the bacon”. I didn’t like his “leadership” style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2020