James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him As Threat To Constitution

DoD photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm


“We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

Former Defense Secretary James Mattis offered a harsh rebuke of President Donald Trump on Wednesday after remaining largely silent after his 2018 resignation, drawn to public comment as the president mounts a divisive response to growing protests across the United States.

According to The Atlantic, Mattis held little back, writing that "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’ rebuke comes amid the backdrop of widespread protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week, with Americans in cities nationwide taking to the streets against police brutality and racial injustice.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “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.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

CNN reported that Mattis’ words “will be a significant moment for many service members who idolize the former defense secretary, who -- despite a career based on loyalty and respect for the military chain-of-command -- is sending troops the message that the country can unite without the President's lead.”

Mattis also took aim at Defense Secretary Mark Esper, though he did not mention the secretary by name, alluding to Esper’s recent remark referencing American cities as a “battlespace.”

"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."

But Mattis reserved the bulk of his anger for the Commander-in-Chief, saying: "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."

Read the entirety of Mattis’ statement here.


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