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When The Brass Turn Their Backs: Military Leaders Retreat From President Trump

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis holds a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis holds a press conference at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

When  The Atlantic’s  Jeffrey Goldberg asked former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about President Donald Trump last year, Mattis said it was inappropriate for him to comment on the president’s performance.

He changed his mind.

Mattis condemned Trump’s handling of the nationwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd  in a recent statement. He accused the president of turning Americans against one another.

Mattis criticized Trump’s calling for troops to be used against American citizens and the senior officials, including current Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s support of that plan.

Mattis is far from the only military leader to call out the President. Retired four star Marine General John Allen published his own critique of Trump’s response to protests, as did former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen.

Why have several leading military personnel spoken up against the president? Does their condemnation matter? What effect could this criticism have on the rest of his term?

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