Yet maybe this time is a little different. Even before the protesters were driven away from the White House, we’d begun to hear a number of strong condemnations of both Trump and how he was handling the protests across the country — some from familiar corners and others from more surprising sources, like military leaders.
On the usual suspects list there’s Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse and Lisa Murkowski (although Murkowski avoided saying much about the protests specifically, she did say she is “struggling” with whether to vote for Trump in 2020). But some current and former members of the president’s inner circle have also criticized him. Most notably, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who resigned in protest in December 2018, issued a scathing rebuke of Trump’s actions on Wednesday night, writing, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” (He also said, “The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation.”) Current Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has also objected to using active-duty troops to respond to mostly peaceful protests.
Former President George W. Bush also weighed in on the side of the protesters, writing, “The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America.” Bush didn’t name Trump directly, but it’s still a telling rebuke from a former president of the same political party.