President Donald Trump fired back at James Mattis, who served as his first defense secretary, after the former marine General excoriated the president in a statement to The Atlantic published on Wednesday, urging Americans to “reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
Trump slammed Mattis on Twitter late Wednesday, pointing out that then-President Obama removed Mattis as head of U.S. Central Command in 2013.
“Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General,” Trump wrote. “I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was ‘Chaos’, which I didn’t like, & changed it to ‘Mad Dog.’ 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!”
Mattis on Wednesday made clear that Trump’s response to the nationwide protests over the in-custody death of George Floyd had spurred him to act.
Specifically, Mattis blasted Trump’s decision to clear away protesters in Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Park on Monday before Trump’s visit to the historic St. John’s Church for a photo op.
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago,” Mattis wrote, “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.”
More generally, Mattis took issue with Trump’s efforts as a statesman and leader.
“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis continued. “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.”
Mattis 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.”
Here’s Trump’s response:
…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