James Mattis Takes the Gloves Off in Trump Statement

The former defense secretary finally speaks up
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2020 6:45 PM CDT
James Mattis Takes the Gloves Off in Trump Statement
James Mattis, then secretary of Defense, speaks during a change of command ceremony at the n US Southern Command headquarters on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Doral, Fla.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Silent, no longer. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis ripped into President Trump on Wednesday in a statement brimming with anger, the Atlantic reports. Mattis had declined to criticize the president after resigning from the administration in 2018 over Trump's Syria policy, saying it was inappropriate for an ex-general to slam a sitting president. Clearly, it's a new day. Mattis even compares Trump's political strategy to that of Nazi Germany. A few excerpts:

  • "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try," says Mattis. "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."

  • "Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that 'The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was "Divide and Conquer." Our American answer is "In Union there is Strength."' We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics."
  • Mattis takes aim at his successor, Mark Esper, who this week urged state governments to "dominate the battle space," per USA Today. "We must reject any thinking of our cities as a 'battlespace' that our uniformed military is called upon to 'dominate,'" says Mattis. "Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, DC, 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."
  • "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."
  • Of Trump: "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."
See the full statement at the Atlantic. (Or read about a Mattis aide who denied being "Anonymous.")

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