Former US Defense Secretary James Mattis launched a scathing attack on President Donald Trump because of his stance on the demonstrations taking place in the country after the killing of George Floyd.
In rare comments since he left office two years ago, Mattis accused Trump of “spreading division in the country and misusing his powers.”
Mattis said he was shocked by Trump’s handling of the crisis, warning that he was seeking to “divide the American people and fail to lead the country wisely.”
Mattis was the first defense minister in the Trump administration, but he resigned from his post in 2018 due to Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria without consulting him.
In a quick response to Mattis’ remarks, Trump tweeted on Twitter in a series of comments, in which he said he “was neither impressed by Mattis nor his style of leadership, as well as many other aspects.”
Trump confirmed that he was pleased that Mattis had left office, adding that he was “dismissed” from the Defense Ministry.
This comes at a time when the United States is witnessing demonstrations against “police violence against blacks” in several states after the killing of Floyd.
The demonstrations continued in dozens of cities throughout the country, for the eighth consecutive day.
Meanwhile, Trump has backed away from his previous threat to call up the military to confront the demonstrators, and Trump said he does not believe the situation requires the use of military forces to tackle the violence that occurred during the protests.
“I don’t think we will have to call in the army,” Trump said in a televised interview.
Hours before, Defense Secretary Mark Esber confirmed his opposition to Trump’s call to summon the military to confront the violence. He also denied knowing many of Trump’s decisions regarding the crisis.
Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but some turned into clashes between protesters and the police, which led to a curfew imposed in a number of cities.