- Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis placed the blame squarely on President Donald Trump for the riot that ensued at the U.S. Capitol.
- Mattis, who served as Trump's first defense secretary, said the president has used the nation's highest role in government to "destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens."
WASHINGTON – Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Wednesday evening placed the blame squarely on President Donald Trump for the riot that ensued on the U.S. Capitol.
"Today's violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump," Mattis wrote in a statement.
Mattis, who served as Trump's first Defense secretary, said the president has used the nation's highest role in government to "destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens."
"Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain and We the People will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect Union, while Mr. Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country," Mattis wrote.
The stinging statement from the revered Marine with a military career spanning four decades is the second time Mattis has broken his silence since leaving the Trump administration.
Last June, Mattis ripped into Trump after protestors were forcibly cleared from Lafayette Square in order for the president to participate in a photo-op with some members of his cabinet. The ensuing civil unrest, some of which turned violent, prompted Trump to call for governors to use harsher tactics and greater force when confronting protesters.
The protests, which rocked D.C. for more than a week, were sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.
"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 in a scathing statement published by The Atlantic.
"We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership," he wrote, adding that he "watched this week's unfolding events, angry and appalled," the four-star Marine wrote.
On Sunday, the nation's 10 living secretaries of Defense penned an ominous warning that the U.S. military should have no role in determining the outcome of a U.S. election.
"Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party," penned Defense secretaries Mark Esper, James Mattis, Ash Carter, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Robert Gates, William Perry and Donald Rumsfeld in an op-ed published Sunday in The Washington Post.
The former Defense secretaries, who have collectively overseen America's military forces for nearly 50 years, argued that "the time for questioning the results" of the U.S. presidential election has passed.
"Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived," wrote the former Defense secretaries, including two that served under Trump.
The secretaries called on Trump's acting Defense Secretary Miller as well as political appointees and civil servants to "refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team."