Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday said he thinks former Defense Secretary James Mattis was “missing something” when he criticized President Trump in the wake of the protests sweeping the nation over the death of George Floyd.
“To General Mattis, I think you’re missing something here, my friend,” Graham said during an Fox News interview. “You’re missing the fact that the liberal media has taken every event in the last three and a half years and laid it at the president’s feet.”
“I’m not saying he’s blameless, but I am saying that you’re buying into a narrative that I think is quite frankly unfair,” the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman continued, adding that Mattis does not understand that there is an “effort to destroy” Trump’s presidency.
Mattis excoriated his former boss in a withering statement on Wednesday, calling Trump “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people.”
“Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”
The retired Marine Corps general resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 over his disagreement with the president regarding withdrawing American forces from Syria and Afghanistan, a campaign promise of Trump’s. Mattis has remained largely silent on his views of the administration since then.
However, in the wake of protests and riots rocking the country over the death of George Floyd, Mattis has spoken out against Trump’s threat to call in the military to handle the situation if necessary. Floyd, a black man, died in police custody after being pinned down by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin until after he passed out.
“We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate,'” Mattis wrote, urging Americans not to be “distracted by a small number of lawbreakers.”
Trump responded to his former defense secretary on Twitter, calling Mattis “the world’s most overrated General,” and said he “felt great” about firing him.
“His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations,” Trump wrote. “I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom ‘brought home the bacon’. I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!”