“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” he wrote. “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. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind.”
He added: “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.”
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” he wrote. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”
“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 added.
Last year a furious Mr Trump was reported to have snapped that Mr Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general”.
The retired general joked about the insult shortly afterwards at the Al Smith Memorial Foundation dinner in New York, saying: “I’m not just an overrated general. I am the greatest, the world’s most overrated.
“I’m honoured to be considered that by Donald Trump, because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So I guess I’m the Meryl Streep of generals. And frankly, that sounds pretty good to me. And you do have to admit that between me and Meryl, at least we’ve had some victories.”