Floyd, an African-American man, died after Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground and knelt on his neck, as seen in footage of the incident. Following the 46-year-old’s death, mass demonstrations broke out across the nation, with thousands of Americans protesting against police brutality.
Trump has repeatedly urged governors and state governments to crack down on the protests. Earlier this week, he ordered security forces to violently disperse the crowd of protesters gathered outside the White House. He then went on to pose for photographs. According to Honoré, the president “either doesn’t understand the Constitution or he don’t give a damn.”
“Trump has embraced the military as his personal protectors. They’re for national security, not political security. They’re in the court of the Constitution.”
The retired general — who oversaw the military response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — criticized Republicans on Capitol Hill for not speaking up. Stating that he is “disappointed” that very few Republicans have dared criticize Trump, Honoré invoked late Arizona Sen. John McCain’s name.
“Can you imagine if McCain were around right now? I don’t think he would be too happy with things going on right now,” he said.
Among the Republicans who explicitly criticized Trump’s response to the protests was Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. She went as far as to suggest that she is not sure whether she will cast a ballot for Trump in the 2020 presidential election and expressed hope that her colleagues will speak up as well.
Some lawmakers and Trump administration officials have made attempts to justify the order to crack down on White House demonstrators, arguing that the president issued it in order to get to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Honoré described these claims as “trying to put lipstick on a pig.”
“It’s hard to deny what you see,” the retired general said.
Honoré was among the signatories of a scathing letter signed by more than 200 former senior diplomats and military leaders. As Foreign Policy reported, the letter said that the United States military has “no role” in dealing with American protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.
“We condemn all criminal acts against persons and property, but cannot agree that responding to these acts is beyond the capabilities of local and state authorities,” the officials wrote.
Former Trump White House chief of staff John Kelly and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis have also criticized the president’s response to the protests.