Ex-Defense secretary criticizes Trump for using military for 'partisan political purposes'

Ex-Defense secretary criticizes Trump for using military for 'partisan political purposes'
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Former Defense Secretary William Perry on Thursday became the latest ex-Defense chief to rip into President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE, accusing the president of politicizing the country's military.

"I support the right of protesters to demonstrate peacefully, and deplore the suggestion that our military should be used to suppress them," Perry, who was Defense secretary during the Clinton Administration, told Politico in a statement.

"The U.S. military is a powerful force that has served our nation well, in war and in peace. But it was never intended to be used against American citizens, and it was never intended to be used for partisan political purposes," he continued.

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Perry's comments come after James MattisJames Norman Mattis The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default MORE, Trump's former Defense secretary, slammed the president for his response to the nationwide protests that have erupted after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police last week.

Trump mobilized the National Guard in Washington, D.C., and encouraged the country's governors to do so as well, telling them earlier in the week that they needed to "dominate" protesters.

“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,” Mattis wrote in his scathing rebuke of the president. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership."

Mattis's attack prompted Trump to take aim at the retired Marine Corps general through Twitter, but Mattis received backup from former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE.

Trump has claimed that he fired Mattis from his post, but Kelly refuted this, telling The Washington Post “[t]he president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation."

Trump has faced rising criticism over his handling of protests and his rhetoric, with some GOP lawmakers also siding with Mattis.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she agreed with Mattis, adding that she is "struggling" with deciding if she will vote to reelect Trump.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyUS expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report GOP anger with Fauci rises No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline MORE (R-Utah) called Mattis's statement "stunning and powerful," adding that the retired general was "an American patriot."