When General James Mattis quietly resigned in protest as Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense over a year and a half ago, he decided to keep his critical thoughts about his former boss to himself. However, when Trump tear-gassed peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square for a disgraceful Bible photo op in early June, Mattis released a statement via The Atlantic slamming Trump for his antics and divisiveness. New bombshell reporting revealing Trump’s attitudes about veterans demands that other military leaders associated with Trump, such as General John Kelly, break their silence as well.
Last night, The Atlantic published an article detailing disturbing comments Trump made in 2018 about the U.S. military that are not just un-American but shockingly inhumane. Trump told senior staff he did not want to visit a World War I cemetery because it was “filled with losers” who were “suckers” because they did not survive the war. Trump also insisted he would not want wounded veterans at a military parade because he believed that “nobody wants to see that,” referring to the sight of amputees who have bravely protected the United States.
As if these general statements are not depraved and disqualifying enough, Trump also reportedly spoke directly to Kelly, who was then Secretary of Homeland Security and would soon become Trump’s Chief of Staff, about his son, Robert, who died fighting in Afghanistan in 2010 at age 29. It’s not just what Trump said but where he and Kelly were and what was happening that places his comments squarely off the rails.
On Memorial Day 2017, just months after Trump took his oath of office, he accompanied Kelly to visit Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 60, where Americans who were killed in recent battles are buried. When the two approached Robert’s grave, Trump offered no words of comfort to the grieving Kelly nor any acknowledgement of the bravery of all the patriotic individuals buried in Section 60. Instead, Trump desecrated the moment by asking Kelly, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”
In his June statement, Mattis wrote, “The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country.” Mattis’ argument presupposes a deep respect for servicemembers who have given their lives to defend America’s democracy—something Trump incredibly lacks.
In case there was any doubt about Joe Biden’s position, he responded to the news by tweeting last night that, if elected, “I will ensure that our American heroes know that I will have their back and honor their sacrifice. Always.” It is time for Kelly and other military leaders to add their condemnation of this ignorant, heartless, and hyper-transactional excuse for a Commander-in-Chief. Then, Americans everywhere must finish the job by voting Trump out of office in record numbers on November 3.