Former US Defence Secretaries condemn Capitol riots

Harry Lye 7 January 2021 (Last Updated January 7th, 2021 14:41)

Two former US Defence Secretaries who served in President Donald Trump’s administration have condemned rioters incited by Trump that raided the US Capitol to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

Former US Defence Secretaries condemn Capitol riots
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol’s Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images).

Two former US Defence Secretaries who served in President Donald Trump’s administration have condemned rioters incited by Trump that raided the US Capitol to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

Jim Mattis and Mark Esper separately issued stark remarks on the mob violence that occurred at the US Capitol, which left four people dead and forced the Vice President, Senators, Congress members and their staff to evacuate the building.

In his statement, former Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that Trump would be ‘left a man without a country’. Mattis also placed the blame for the violence on Trump.

Since losing the election, Trump has disseminated conspiracy theories and promoted false claims about election fraud.

Mattis wrote: “Today’s violent assault on our Capitol, an effort to subjugate American democracy by mob rule, was fomented by Mr Trump. His use of the Presidency to destroy trust in our election and to poison respect for fellow citizens has been enabled by pseudo-political leaders whose names will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.”

Mattis added: “Our Constitution and our Republic will overcome this stain and We the People will come together again in our never-ending effort to form a more perfect Union, while Mr Trump will deservedly be left a man without a country.”

Rioting Trump supporters breached the Capitol building forcing some lawmakers to shelter in their officers. The insurrection was intended to disrupt the electoral college vote’s formal counting to prevent President-elect Joe Biden’s election.

One rioter was photographed wearing a hoodie that read ‘Camp Auschwitz’ and featured the logo of the Nazi SS. Another was photographed walking the halls of the Capitol carrying a Confederate battle flag.

During the breach, lawmakers’ offices were trashed while police barricaded the chamber of Congress with guns drawn. Amid the violence, Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump, authorised the DC National Guard’s deployment.

On Twitter, Esper wrote: “This afternoon’s assault on the US Capitol was appalling and un-American. This is not how citizens of the world’s greatest and oldest democracy behave. The perpetrators who committed this illegal act were inspired by partisan misinformation and patently false claims about the election.

“This must end now for the good of the republic. I commend Congressional leaders for meeting tonight to complete their Constitutional task of counting the electoral college votes that will affirm Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.”

Despite the riot, police were able to secure the Capitol building allowing lawmakers to return to the floor and complete certification of the vote, clearing the path for Biden’s inauguration later this month.

Esper added: “As this transition plays out over the next two weeks, I am confident the US military will stay out of politics, and remain true to its sworn oath to support and defend the Constitution, and the American people, as the most trusted and respected institution in the country.”

During the crisis, Acting Secretary of Defence Chris Miller issued a statement on the full mobilisation of the DC National Guard stating he was in contact with Pence, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Senator Schumer and Representative Hoyer about the situation on Capitol Hill. Miller’s statement notably made no mention of Trump.

Miller added: “We have fully activated the DC National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation.

“We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities. Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly.”