Mattis denounces Trump and military response to civil unrest

MANDEL NGAN / AFP

Former US Defence Secretary James Mattis has criticized President Donald Trump's recent handling of the anti-racism protests, and accused him of dividing the country.

"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," his scathing statement read.

He said he was "angry and appalled" by Trump's threat to initiate a military crackdown on protests that turned violent over the controversial killing of George Floyd.

His 640-word statement published in The Atlantic magazine is the most forceful statement yet from a former member of Trump's cabinet.

Meanwhile, Trump responded by calling Mattis an "overrated general" and said he was glad he had left the post.

Mattis stepped down from his post in 2018 after Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

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