President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the nation needs “law and order” and defended his walk to a Washington, DC church after protesters were dispersed from the area. (June 4)
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says that he will once again not vote for Donald Trump, calling the president’s approach to politics “dangerous for our democracy” and asserting that Trump has “drifted away” from the Constitution.
Powell publicly said he would vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and he plans to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, who clinched the Democratic nomination last week, in November.
“I’m very close to Joe Biden in a social matter and on a political matter. I have worked with him for 35, 40 years,” Powell told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “And he is now the candidate, and I will be voting for him.”
Powell, a retired four-star Army general, joins a growing list of former senior military officials who have denounced Trump, including a wave of condemnation last week that was sparked by Trump’s walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church after National Guard members helped drive protesters from the area around the White House.
More: Americans’ perceptions of police drop significantly in one week as protests continue, survey finds
Trump’s former secretary of defense, retired Gen. Jim Mattis, said in a statement he was “appalled” by Trump’s handling of the protests that have followed the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer held him down with a knee on his neck.
“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,” Mattis wrote.
Trump’s former chief of staff, retired Gen. John Kelly, said in an interview that he agreed with Mattis.
“I think we need to look harder at who we elect,” Kelly said. “I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”
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Retired Marine Corps four-star general John Allen, said the day Trump walked to the church, “may well signal the beginning of the end of the American experiment.”
Powell said he was happy to see the former military officials speaking out against the president.
“I’m proud that they were willing to take the risk of speaking honestly and speaking truth to those who are not speaking the truth,” he said.
“We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the president has drifted away from it.”
Powell said he did not feel the need to issue a statement because he made his feeling about Trump clear four years ago when it became “clear that I could not possibly vote for this individual.”
“The first thing that troubled me is the whole birthers movement. And birthers movement had to do with the fact that the president of the United States, President Obama, was a black man. That was part of it,” Powell said of Trump’s denial that Obama was an American citizen in the face of evidence proving that he was.
“And then I was deeply troubled by the way in which he was going around insulting everybody, insulting Gold Star mothers, insulting John McCain, insulting immigrants –and I’m the son of immigrants – insulting anybody who dared to speak against him.
“And that is dangerous for our democracy. It is dangerous for our country. And I think what we’re seeing now, the most massive protest movement I have ever seen in my life, I think this suggests that the country is getting wise to this, and we’re not going to put up with it anymore.”
Powell added that Trump “lies,” a word “I never would have used with any of the four presidents I have worked for.”
“He lies about things. And he gets away with it because people will not hold him accountable,” Powell said.
In a tweet shortly after Powell’s interview aired, Trump said called Powell – the first African-American to serve as secretary of state and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff – “highly overrated” and touted his own accomplishments in office.
Polls: Americans disapprove of Trump response to George Floyd death and protests
Last week, President George W. Bush said in a statement that is was crucial that the protesters be heard. And without mentioning Trump by name, denounced those who would try to silence them.
Condoleeza Rice, who served in Bush’s Cabinet along with Powell, declined Sunday to say on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” whether she planned to vote for Trump, but she said the president should “speak in the language of unity, the language of empathy.”
“You have to speak to every American, not just to those who might agree with you. And you have to speak about the deep wounds that we have and that we’re going to overcome them,” Rice said. “Leaders at this particular point need to do everything that they can to overcome, not intensify our divisions.”
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen and Nicholas Wu; The Associated Press
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