89 former defense officials say they are 'alarmed' by Trump's threat to use the military to end nationwide unrest
Dozens of former defense officials, including a handful former secretaries of defense, spoke out in one voice against President Donald Trump and his response to the nationwide protests in an op-ed published in The Washington Post Friday. Trump threatened earlier this week to send in the military if a city fails to control local civil unrest before previewing what that might mean with a show of force in Washington, DC. "The members of our military are always ready to serve in our nation's defense. But they must never be used to violate the rights of those they are sworn to protect," the authors of the op-ed wrote Friday. The joint statement issued Friday follows those of a number of former military leaders, including Trump's former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, condemning the president's actions. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Numerous former defense officials strongly spoke out against President Donald Trump's militaristic response to nationwide protests, condemning the president in one voice and urging him to end his threat to use the military to quell unrest in an op-ed published in The Washington Post Friday afternoon. "Trump continues to use inflammatory language as many Americans protest the unlawful death of George Floyd and the unjust treatment of black Americans by our justice system," they wrote, arguing that the president's rhetoric has become more aggressive as the protests have grown. The post's authors, 89 former defense officials including people like former defense secretaries Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Ashton Carter, and William Cohen, called Trump's pledge to send the US military into American cities to respond to unrest "shocking." They called attention to some of the developments that followed Trump's remarks Monday evening, specifically military helicopters flying low over protesters in a show of force maneuver "used to disperse enemy combatants" overseas and the use of forceful tactics by law enforcement to drive away peaceful protesters for a presidential photo op. The writers said that while past presidents have used the military in a law enforcement capacity, they did so to "protect the rights of Americans, not violate them." "If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said on Monday before offering a preview in the streets of the nation's capital. The 89 former defense officials who spoke out Friday wrote that they, as did the president, all took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. "We are alarmed at how the president is betraying this oath by threatening to order members of the US military to violate the rights of their fellow Americans," they wrote. "As defense leaders who share a deep commitment to the Constitution, to freedom and justice for all Americans, and to the extraordinary men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our nation, we call on the president to immediately end his plans to send active-duty military personnel into cities as agents of law enforcement, or to employ them or any another military or police forces in ways that undermine the constitutional rights of Americans," the former defense officials wrote Friday. "The members of our military are always ready to serve in our nation's defense. But they must never be used to violate the rights of those they are sworn to protect," they concluded. Friday's op-ed follows multiple statements by retired generals and admirals, military leaders like former secretary of defense Jim Mattis, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, and the Navy SEAL that oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid William McRaven, who have strongly criticized the president's actions this week. "I have watched this week's unfolding events, angry and appalled," Jim Mattis, Trump's former secretary of defense and a retired Marine Corps general, wrote in a statement that was first published in The Atlantic. "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us," he wrote. Read the full statement made by the 89 former defense officials at The Washington Post »Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak
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Defense Department officials said top generals could resign if Mr. Trump ordered the active-duty military into...Defense Department officials said top generals could resign if Mr. Trump ordered the active-duty military into the streets to quell protests.
Trump claims he demanded Jim Mattis to resign — but the retired Marine reportedly made 2 copies of his resignation letter when he quit
Summary List Placement President Donald Trump continued to assert that his former defense secretary was fired...Summary List Placement President Donald Trump continued to assert that his former defense secretary was fired rather than voluntarily resigning, a claim that was refuted by a recent White House tell-all written by an award-winning Washington Post journalist. Speaking to an audience at an ABC News townhall on Tuesday, Trump criticized Jim Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, as one of the many "disgruntled former employees" who left his administration under adverse circumstances. "Highly overrated general, didn't do the job," Trump said of the highly-revered retired officer. Mattis announced his resignation in December 2018, citing disagreements with the president's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. The withdrawal, which Mattis strongly opposed, would abandon US allies in the region and conflict with what Mattis believed to be the lodestar in America's strength. "Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis wrote in his resignation letter to Trump. But during the townhall on Tuesday, Trump claimed: "he didn't resign." "Give me a letter. No more. Give me a letter," Trump recalled himself as saying. "I said, 'Jim, give me a letter. It's time for you to move on.'" "He gave me a letter, but I fired him," Trump added. "That's called, 'I fired him.' Now, Gen. Mattis didn't do the job. I wasn't happy with him." The president's recollection of the incident contradicts the account written in Bob Woodward's recent White House tell-all, "Rage." Woodward, an award-winning journalist known for his work uncovering the Watergate scandal in 1972, has written numerous books about American presidents and their top advisers based on extensive interviews with insiders. In his latest book, which was sourced from over a dozen sources, Woodward wrote that Mattis had drafted two copies of a resignation letter immediately before his meeting with the president. Mattis wanted to persuade Trump to roll back his abrupt decision to pull US forces out of Syria in late December — a conversation that he half-expected would be unsuccessful. Mattis took one copy of his resignation letter and left the remaining copy on top of his desk drawer, Woodward wrote. Mattis eventually failed to persuade the president that the US presence in the region, in addition to its allies, was essential in combatting ISIS. "Mr. President, it's probably best you read this," Mattis said, before handing Trump his letter, according to "Rage." Trump reportedly responded to Mattis's letter: "It's not a real nice letter." "Mr. President, if you and I don't agree that we're parting over the allies — the way we look at allies — then the press is going to come up, rightly, with a hundred different reasons why I'm leaving," Mattis replied. Trump agreed with Mattis's assessment and asked if the letter was going to be publicized. "It's got to be public," Mattis said. "Number one, it'll leak if we don't do it. Just put the thing out there and say, 'This is all it is.'" After leaving the White House, Mattis called his chief of staff and instructed him to release the letter on his desk to the media, Woodward wrote. Mattis mostly kept silent following his resignation, a move that broke with other former senior White House officials who left the Trump administration in an unceremonious fashion. In June, however, he released a statement to The Atlantic suggesting Trump was a threat to the US Constitution. "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us," Mattis wrote. "We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership." "We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution," Mattis added.Join the conversation about this story »
Former defense secretary says Trump's word and actions 'on the record' corroborates Atlantic report of him belittling American veterans
Summary List PlacementFormer Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a Sunday interview with ABC that...Summary List PlacementFormer Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said in a Sunday interview with ABC that The Atlantic's report that President Donald Trump belittled American veterans "will resonate" with US soldiers because of the president's track record of deriding Americans who served in the army. In a report published Thursday, The Atlantic stated that anonymous sources said Trump derided the late former senator John McCain and the late former President George H. W. Bush as "losers" because they were shot down while serving in the US Navy. Hagel said that the report is in line with Trump's words and actions "on the record," which speak to the "credibility of this article." He pointed out that Trump's derision of late Senator John McCain, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and retired US Marine Corps general John Kelly are among many of Trump's track record criticizing former American veterans that "corroborates" the report. Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel says he believes the report that Trump disparaged U.S. soldiers “will resonate” with the military because Trump’s own words and actions "on the record" make "the article and those anonymous comments more and more credible.” https://t.co/ScDveU4dz4 pic.twitter.com/loeHYvDuJ5 — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 6, 2020 NEW: Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel tells @MarthaRaddatz that “you can go through a litany of past things that (Trump) said from his mouth, actions that he’s taken, and it corroborates” the allegations in The Atlantic report that Trump disparaged U.S. soldiers. https://t.co/ScDveU4dz4 pic.twitter.com/YOdVUP6G1n — ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 6, 2020 "Facts are facts," the former Defense Secretary told ABC News. "I think this is a pretty clear indictment of this president's attitude towards our veterans." A recipient of two Purple Hearts while serving in the Vietnam War, Hagel added that such "despicable" comments are "beneath the dignity of any commander-in-chief." "No president has ever done that — use your veterans, use your active military as props," Hagel said on ABC. Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters have denied the report, slamming its use of anonymous sources. The president furiously lashed out on journalist Jeffrey Goldberg who wrote the article and denied the veracity of the report. On Sunday, he also attacked Laurene Powell Jobs, a major stakeholder in The Atlantic for "wasting money" on a "failing Radical Left Magazine." Two former sr Trump admin officials confirm .@JeffreyGoldberg reporting that President Trump disparaged veterans and did not want to drive to honor American war dead at Aisne-Marne Cemetery outside Paris. — Jennifer Griffin (@JenGriffinFNC) September 4, 2020 A number of other news outlets and journalists, including Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin, The Associated Press, and Business Insider have since corroborated parts of The Atlantic report with sources. Meanwhile, Trump has targeted journalists who have reported on the credibility of this story. On Friday, he tweeted out that Griffin "should be fired for this kind of reporting." Business Insider reached out to a spokesperson for The White House for comment. Read more: 'I've known Donald Trump. It sounds like him': Trump's 'loser' remarks about military veterans are getting harder to deny as more evidence corroborates bombshell report Trump said retired Gen. John Kelly 'got eaten alive' as White House chief of staff after reports claimed he made rude remarks at the grave of Kelly's son Fox News reported Trump never said that dead US troops were 'suckers,' but the network's national security correspondent said ex-officials confirmed he did Pete Buttigieg says Trump disrespected US military since the day he let a 'sucker' serve in Vietnam in his place Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What it's like inside North Korea's controversial restaurant chain