James Mattis, who was the first defense secretary of the Government of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, accused the president on Wednesday of “trying to divide” the country and of abusing his authority by “militarizing the response to the protests” for police violence against blacks.

In a statement published in “The Atlantic” magazine, Mattis harshly criticized Trump, in an extraordinary gesture for someone who until now had been silent about his differences with the president, beyond acknowledging that both disagreed regarding the conflict in Syria.

“Donald Trump is the first President I have ever seen who has not attempted to unite the American people, and does not even pretend to do so. Instead, try to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership, ”wrote Mattis.

The former Pentagon head between January 2017 and December 2018, when he resigned as a result of Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, opined that the United States “can join” without Trump, although “it will not be easy “


“We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witness in Lafayette Square. We have to reject and hold those in power and who want to laugh at our Constitution accountable, ”Mattis said.

The retired general was referring to Monday’s episode in Washington, when security forces used tear gas to disperse the peaceful protesters who were in that square next to the White House and allow Trump to cross it on foot to pose in front of a church with a bible in hand.

“I never dreamed that the troops who took the same oath as I (to defend the Constitution) would under no circumstances be ordered to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens, let alone to allow a bizarre photo opportunity for the commander-in-chief-elect Mattis stressed.


Mattis’s message came hours after current US Defense Secretary Mark Esper rejected the possibility of employing active troops to stem the wave of protests, in an open signal of disagreement with Trump, who maintains that option on the table.

Mattis went further by affirming that “it is not necessary to militarize the response to the protests”, but that the country unites “around a common objective, which begins by guaranteeing that everyone” is equal under the law.

“Militarizing our response, as we saw in Washington, gives rise to a conflict, a false conflict, between the military and civil society. It erodes the moral basis that ensures trust between the men and women in uniform and the society they have sworn to protect, ”said the former official.

Mattis rejected the idea of ​​thinking of American cities as “a space of battle” – a term used by Esper – that the military must “dominate” – a word used by Trump.

And he stressed that all Americans should “be able to support” the protesters’ demands, and “not be distracted by a small number of people who have broken the law” by causing riots and looting.

The Pentagon maintains 1,600 active-duty soldiers deployed around Washington in case it is necessary to send them to the protest area, after displacing them from North Carolina and New York.