Lawmakers divided over Mattis’ criticism of Trump’s response to protests

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers are responding to harsh criticism of President Donald Trump by his Former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Mattis on Wednesday criticized the president for using military force to clear out peaceful protesters near the White House. The former defense secretary wrote that he has “watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled.”

But some lawmakers, like South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, are standing by the president in the wake of the criticism from Mattis.

“He and I disagree on this issue,” Sen. Scott (R-SC) said Thursday. “(The president) said he had no clue that they were going to teargas the crowds out there.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said President Trump is acting as a president should.

“The administration is just trying to work out things and lower the temperature in terms of the rioters,” Tillis said.

But the president’s actions aren’t sitting well with Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill who agree with Mattis.

“I hope people will listen to what he has said,” Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it should be a warning to all military leaders.

“Don’t let the president push you into doing things you know that are wrong,” Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor Thursday morning.

Current Defense Secretary Mark Esper himself is in hot water with President Trump for not supporting the president’s plan to stop violent protests using active-duty troops.

“(That) should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” Esper said Wednesday. “We are not in one of those situations now.”

The White House on Thursday said the president disagrees with Esper.

“All options are on the table when the lives of the American people are at stake,” White House Spokesman Hogan Gidley said.

But Gidley said Esper is still the Defense Secretary and “President Trump is still the president.”

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