Mattis delivers a scorching dressing down of his former boss: "We know we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution."
"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 without mature leadership."
Mattis has frustrated many of us with his reluctance to speak out against Trump, but he said he was waiting for the right moment. This is it and the statement must be seen as a staggering blow to Trump. Few have Mattis' standing as a man of principle and above politics.
Whatever the critiques may be of his past silences, he will be remembered for this impassioned, cogently argued stance on behalf of the Constitution and the values of the military and country to which he has devoted his entire life.
He demolishes Trump and reveals precisely what is at the heart both of his failure as a leader and the danger he and his enablers pose to the country. We owe him an even bigger debt of gratitude than we did for his decades of service...and that is saying a great deal.
Finally, kudos to @jeffreygoldberg and @TheAtlantic. Every day now for months they have defined the central issues of debate in the U.S. and emerged as perhaps the pre-eminent platform for informed analysis of the multiple crises we face. They have become America's conscience.
Doing what they do daily at the level they do it is not easy and in fact, that is precisely why so few media organizations are able to do it. It has been brilliant work by Jeff and his team and the country owes them a debt of gratitude as well.
You can follow @djrothkopf.
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