'Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country': Trump's former defense secretaries condemn 'appalling' assault on Capitol
- Former Trump administration defense secretaries Jim Mattis and Mark Esper issued strong statements condemning the pro-Trump mob that violently breached the US Capitol Wednesday.
- "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 said in a statement.
- "This afternoon's assault on the US Capitol was appalling and un-American. This is not how citizens of the world's greatest and oldest democracy behave," Esper said in a separate statement.
- Other former senior defense officials also weighed in on the riots as well.
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Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a sharply-worded statement condemning President Donald Trump after a pro-Trump mob violently breached the US Capitol in an effort to overturn the election Wednesday.
"Today's violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr. Trump," Mattis said in a statement. "His use of the Presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison our respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice."
"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 added.
Mattis's statement came as thousands of Trump supporters descended on Washington, DC, to challenge the results of the 2020 US presidential election. They stormed the Capitol as a joint session of Congress was in session to fulfill a constitutional requirement to count and certify the presidential race's Electoral College votes.
The breach forced both chambers to take recess as lawmakers were warned to take shelter-in-place for several hours. Security officials at the chamber could be seen with their handguns drawn and pointed at the mob as they shattered the windows of the House floor.
At least one person was killed in the incident.
Right before the mob assault, Trump hosted an event near the White House to galvanize supporters to "never concede" the presidential election. After protesters broke into offices and the congressional chambers, lawmakers from both parties and former White House officials urged Trump to call for calm and help end the unrest.
Trump would later issue a tweet: "I am asking for everyone at the US Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!"
Mark Esper, another former Trump administration defense secretary who was recently ousted, also issued a statement Wednesday evening on the events at the Capitol.
"This afternoon's assault on the US Capitol was appalling and un-American," Esper said in his statement. "This is not how citizens of the world's greatest and oldest democracy behave. The perpetrators who committed this illegal act were inspired by partisan misinformation and patently false claims about the election. "
"This must end now for the good of the republic," Esper added. "I commend Congressional leaders for meeting tonight to complete their Constitutional task of counting the electoral college votes that will affirm Joe Biden as the next president of the United States."
Mattis resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 after he clashed with Trump over the president's plans to prematurely declare victory over the Islamic State and withdraw American troops from Syria, a move that would have abandoned US partners at a critical time in the fight against terrorism.
After leaving the administration, Mattis kept his thoughts on the president largely to himself, save the occasional quip. It wasn't until last summer, after Trump's militaristic response to nationwide protests following the death of an unarmed Black man in police custody, that Mattis finally spoke out.
"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," the retired general wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic.
Esper, the next permanent defense secretary after Mattis, was fired by Trump shortly after he lost the presidential election to Biden in November.
Though Esper worked to implement much of the president's agenda during his tenure as the secretary of defense, he broke with Trump on several key issues. In particular, he rejected the president's desire to use active-duty military to quell domestic unrest over racial justice concerns this past summer.
Esper was also supportive of renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders, something to which Trump has been strongly opposed. Before his termination, he had issued a memo effectively banning the display of the Confederate flag on military installations.
Both Mattis and Esper recently signed a joint statement that was also signed by the remaining eight living secretaries of defense that argued against efforts by the president and his allies to undermine the election.
"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," their letter, which was published in The Washington Post, read.
In addition to the comments from the two former secretaries of defense, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who retired from his position in 2019, condemned the events at the Capitol Wednesday, telling CNN's Barbara Starr in a statement that it was "an outrageous assault on our democracy and a sad day for our nation."
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