Top Military Brass Rebuke Trump
June 4, 2020
Trump’s use of the military to “dominate” U.S. citizens exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble is un-American and unconstitutional. In an unprecedented rebuke of a president, current and former military leaders have publicly criticized Trump’s authoritarian threats and defended the rights of protesters.
Trump’s handpicked former secretary of defense James Mattis accused Trump of violating Americans’ constitutional rights and criticized his lack of “mature leadership.”
MATTIS: “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. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”
MATTIS: “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
Trump’s current Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly opposed Trump’s threat to invoke the Insurrection Act and admitted Trump’s “photo-op” in front of St. John’s was purely “political.”
ESPER: “The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
ESPER: “I did know that we were going to the church. I was not aware of a photo-op was happening. … I did everything I can to try to stay apolitical and to try — trying to stay out of situations that may appear political, and sometimes I’m successful with doing that, and — and sometimes I’m not as successful.”
The Trump-appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley publicly released a message to the nation’s top military commanders affirming Americans’ right to peaceful assembly and the Armed Forces’ commitment to the Constitution and American people.
MILLEY: “Every member of the U.S. military swears an oath to support and defend the Constitution and the values embedded within it. This document is founded on the essential principles that all men and women are born free and equal and should be treated with respect and dignity. It also gives Americans the right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.”
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen criticized Trump’s “disdain for the rights of peaceful protest” and questioned the “soundness” of Trump’s decisions.
MULLEN: “Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.”
MULLEN: “I am less confident in the soundness of the orders they will be given by this commander in chief, and I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops. Certainly, we have not crossed the threshold that would make it appropriate to invoke the provisions of the Insurrection Act.”
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey criticized Trump’s use of the armed forces against Americans and his attempt to turn America into a battlefield.
DEMPSEY: “America’s military, our sons and daughters, will place themselves at risk to protect their fellow citizens. Their job is unimaginably hard overseas; harder at home. Respect them, for they respect you. America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy. #BeBetter”