US President Donald Trump, in a tweet on Thursday, shared a letter that referred to the protesters who were forcibly dispersed from a park near the White House on Monday evening as “terrorists.”
The letter was written by former marine, now attorney, John Dowd, who was once the lead attorney for the president during the Mueller investigation. Dowd’s letter is a response to former Secretary of Defense James “Jim” Mattis’s open letter to the president criticizing his treatment of protesters and accusing him of turning the public against one another.
Mattis’s statement said, “We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate.'” He went on to add that “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,” and that “We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society.”
Mattis concluded with the statements, “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,” but that we also “know that 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.”
Dowd’s letter is a direct response to Mattis’s. In the opening of the letter, Dowd said that he, “Never dreamed you would let a bunch of hack politicians use your good name and reputation-earned with the blood and guts of young Marines.” He went on to add that, “The phony protesters near Lafayette park were not peaceful and are not real. They are terrorists using idle hate-filled students to burn and destroy.”
Dowd also criticized former president Barack Obama by claiming, “No one divided this country more than Obama. He abandoned our black brothers and sisters.” He also claimed that, “President Trump has done more to help our minority brothers and sisters in three years than anyone in the last fifty.” Dowd concluded by praising the controversial decision by Trump to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. He accused Mattis of being embarrassed at his own “failure” to take such action and of the “instincts and balls” shown by the president. Notably, Dowd made no reference to the Iran missile attack on a US base in response and instead claimed that the president’s action has silenced Iran ever since.
Trump also agreed on Thursday to begin standing down the 82nd Airborne Division troops he had controversially ordered to Washington but had not yet been deployed. This move marks a momentary ceasefire in the escalating conflict between the Pentagon and the White House over the use of active-duty troops in addressing the current civil unrest across the country.