"General Mattis' letter was stunning and powerful. General Mattis is a man of extraordinary sacrifice. He's an American patriot. He's an individual whose judgment I respect, and I think the world of him.""If I ever had to choose somebody to be in a foxhole with, it would be with General Mattis," Romney added. "What a wonderful, wonderful man."
Mattis penned a Wednesday piece for The Atlantic in which he offered a scathing critique of Trump's leadership amid the protests over the death of George Floyd, which continue around the United States. In his piece, Mattis accused the president of trying to divide Americans and called the current state of the country the result of three years of this purported attempt to sow discord, in combination with a lack of "mature leadership."
Mattis called for unity without Trump and pushed for citizens to draw on the "strengths inherent in our civil society."
"This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children."Mattis also took aim at Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and other senior White House officials who he believes are helping fuel conflict between civilians and the military.
Romney, who was the only Republican in the Senate to vote for Trump's impeachment, has long been open about his qualms with the president. Most recently, while speaking at a Georgetown University event in April, he appeared to take a veiled jab at Trump's ability to lead amid the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, the 73-year-old senator opined that the United States' response to the crisis seemed to be slow compared to other parts of the world, suggesting it was not a decisive moment for American leadership.As reported by NBC News, Romney was joined by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in his praise of Mattis' criticism of Trump. Murkowski claimed that the former defense secretary's comments suggested that America is reaching a point where people might be becoming comfortable being "more honest" with concerns regarding the country's leadership and begin speaking out.
In response to Mattis' critique, Trump attacked his military record and claimed he fired the retired Marine Corps general — a notion that John Kelly, the president's chief of staff at the time, denied.