Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis published an attack on President Donald Trump on Wednesday, accusing the president of violating the Constitution in clearing Lafayette Park on Monday and using the military to quell riots.
In an extraordinary statement, published in The Atlantic, Mattis calls the rioters and looters a “small number of lawbreakers” among “tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values.”
He also compares President Trump to a Nazi, saying Trump’s policies resemble “[t]he Nazi slogan for destroying us.”
He does not call for any specific action, but suggests the president should be “reject[ed].”
When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. 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.
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.
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.
We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.
Read Mattis’s full statement here.
Lafayette Park was cleared by the U.S. Park Police, which was falsely accused of using tear gas to disperse protesters. The Park Police said Tuesday that they cleared the police because some of the protesters “began throwing projectiles including bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids.”
The president brought the military in to help calm Washington, DC, and the National Guard was deployed at the request of governors in 29 states.
The result, as of Wednesday morning, was that the nation’s streets were the “calmest in days,” the Associated Press reported.
Mattis, whom Trump appointed at the start of his administration, resigned in December 2018 over diplomatic disagreements with the president. He implied that Trump was not doing enough to support multilateral institutions.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.