Donald Trump has come under fire after sharing a letter on Twitter that described peaceful protesters who were rallying near the White House on Monday as “terrorists.”
The letter was written by Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd and looks to be a response to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ statement from Wednesday, where he criticized Trump’s reaction to the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd.
“The phony protesters near Lafayette were not peaceful and are not real,” Dowd's letter alleged. “They are terrorists using idle hate filled students to burn and destroy. They were abusing and disrespecting the police when the police were preparing the area for the 1900 curfew.”
On Monday, Trump stated that he is “your President of law and order” while peaceful protesters were forcibly dispersed from outside the White House with the use of gas, flash bangs, and rubber bullets, supposedly so he could visit a church. He stood outside for a photo opp for only a few minutes before going back to the White House.
Mattis issued his statement following Trump’s church debacle, writing that the US “must reject any thinking of our cities as a 'battlespace' that our uniformed military is called upon to 'dominate,'” per CNN.
“At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society,” he added.
Trump apparently has no issue with his response to the protests, and didn’t see a problem with the National Guard helicopter flying so low over the D.C. protesters on Monday.
“The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!” he tweeted.
The District of Columbia National Guard has launched an investigation into the incident to decide if the flights were appropriate. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has also called for an inquiry. CNN reports the helicopter had a “stated mission,” partly to “deter” activity like rioting and looting, according to a defense official who had access to the crew’s orders. The helicopter also intended to impede “unlawful assembly,” supply medical evacuation, and provide surveillance. The investigation is directed on how low-level flights were permissible, which ended up frightening civilians.