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General James Mattis

When Marine general James Mattis resigned as Donald Trump’s secretary of defense at the end of 2018, he promised that he would avoid criticizing the sitting president. But he added, “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”

Yesterday was the day the dam broke. Mattis came to the conclusion that Trump is a direct threat to our nation and wrote a stinging rebuke against his former boss, published in The Atlantic. If you follow the link and scroll down a ways, you can see the original text.

Mattis accuses Trump of violating the constitution, and of deliberately dividing the nation. “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try.”

Mattis also criticized Trump’s current secretary of defense, saying “We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate’.”

And Mattis defends the protesters:

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

© Nick Anderson

UPDATE: In seemingly independent moves, Trump seems to have lost all of his generals, including his current secretary of defense, Mike Esper and the current chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mark Millay. Esper disagreed with Trump on the use of military force to deal with protesters and explicitly opposed the president’s invocation of the Insurrection Act. Millay sent out a general memo to the leaders of all US military branches reminding them that they swore an oath to defend and protect the Constitution and its values, including the rights of equality under the law, free speech, and peaceful assembly.


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