15 minutes. James Mattis, first defense secretary of the government of President Donald Trump, accused the president on Wednesday of “trying to divide” the country and of abusing its authority by “militarizing the response to protests” due to 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 has been silent about his differences with the US president.

“Donald Trump is the first president I have ever seen who has not tried to unite the American people, and does not even pretend to do so. Instead, he is trying 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, opined that the United States (USA) “can join” without Trump, although “it will not be easy.”

Does Trump abuse his authority?

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

“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.

Tensions between the Pentagon and Trump

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.

Mattis went further, stating that “there is no need to militarize the response to the protests.”

“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 men and women in uniform and the society they have sworn to protect. “he said.

Mattis rejected the idea of ​​thinking of American cities as “a space of battle.”

He stressed that all Americans should “be able to support” the protesters’ demands.

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.