President Donald Trump’s former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who resigned in 2018 over the commander-in-chief’s Syria policy, has rebuked him. In a scathing statement to The Atlantic, Mattis writes in support of protesters demonstrating against police brutality in the wake of the alleged murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Mattis took particular offense at Trump’s “bizarre photo op” at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington’s Lafayette Square, which police cleared by tear gassing protesters as the president walked over. The former Cabinet member called it “an abuse of executive authority” and accused the president of a “deliberate effort” to divide citizens rather than unite them.
Trump responded on Twitter hours later and claimed he had fired Mattis: “Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General... His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations.”