“WASHINGTON — Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, breaking months of public silence on President Trump since resigning in protest in December 2018, on Wednesday offered a withering critique of the president’s leadership amid growing protests across the country.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mr. Mattis wrote in a statement issued late Wednesday. “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.”
Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, also criticized comments by the current defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, who in recent days has described protest sites across the nation as a “battle space” to be cleared.
“We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battle space’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate,’” Mr. Mattis wrote. “At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society.” “
“. . . In his statement on Wednesday, Mr. Mattis sounded a call to arms of a different sort than have resounded in the streets near the White House, and across the country.
“We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square,” Mr. Mattis said. “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” “