When former Gen. James Mattis resigned as Defense Secretary in late 2018, he said it would be counterproductive to criticize the president.
But now he is unloading on President Donald Trump, criticizing what he considers to be a lack of leadership during unrest in cities around the country from the commander in chief.
"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 wrote in a statement to The Atlantic. "Instead, he tries to divide us.
"We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort.
"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," Mattis wrote.
Mattis applauds the peaceful protesters and their right to free assembly. He called on the citizens throughout the United States to help pull the country together, even in this time of fear and anger.
"It is a wholesome and unifying demand — one that all of us should be able to get behind, Mattis continued. "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."
He concluded: "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."
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