Newsletter: Mattis denounces Trump

Former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis in 2018.
(Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

President Trump receives more backlash over his response to widespread protests, including unprecedented criticism from his former Pentagon chief.


Mattis Denounces Trump

President Trump’s effort to use the military to respond to nationwide protests has led to an extraordinary rupture with his current and former secretaries of Defense.

For the record:

10:43 p.m. June 5, 2020An item in this newsletter incorrectly stated that Sen. Hubert Humphrey visited a North American Rockwell plant in Downey on June 5, 1987. As the photo caption notes, the date of his visit was June 5, 1972.


Mark Esper, who now holds the position, stated that he opposed using active-duty troops against protesters seeking justice after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, saying it should be done “only in the most urgent and dire of situations.” Esper added: “We are not in one of those situations now,” rejecting an option Trump said he’s considering.

Hours later, former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis delivered an even stronger rebuke to Trump, accusing the president of ordering the military to “violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”

As a young Marine, Mattis said he swore an oath to defend the Constitution. “Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander in chief, with military leadership standing alongside,” he wrote in the statement, published by the Atlantic magazine.

“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. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Trump responded to Mattis in his customary fashion, with disparaging tweets. But the effects on Trump could be far-reaching, given Mattis’ reputation as a widely admired military leader.

LAPD Budget Cuts Sought

When Los Angeles plunged into a budget crisis because of the coronavirus, activists with Black Lives Matter and other groups demanded that the City Council slash spending at the Police Department, saying it’s wrong to increase funding for officers while cutting other urgently needed services, as Mayor Eric Garcetti had proposed at the time.

The debate over police spending has only intensified after several days of protests against police brutality, the LAPD’s response to those demonstrations — including incidents of police violence and aggression caught on cellphone video — and the looting that sometimes broke out. Some protesters have chanted “Defund the LAPD!”


Now, L.A. officials say they will look to cut $100 million to $150 million from the city’s $1.86-billion police budget as part of a broader effort to reinvest more dollars into the black community. In all, Garcetti pledged that the city would “identify $250 million in cuts so we can invest in jobs, in health, in education and in healing,” especially in the city’s black community “as well as communities of color and women and people who have been left behind.”

It comes as activists promote an alternative spending plan, dubbed the People’s Budget, that would cut the vast majority of the LAPD’s funding. But other community leaders, and at least some elected officials, say the recent outbreak in looting, vandalism and arson shows precisely why the the city needs the number of officers it has.

More About the Protests

George Floyd’s aunt Angela Harrelson says their ancestors lost land, education and their lives to racist U.S. policies, from the South to the Midwest and that today’s protests give hope that can change.

— Minnesota’s attorney general said the charges against former Officer Derek Chauvin have been elevated to second-degree murder and that the three other Minneapolis police officers at the scene of Floyd’s death will face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Former President Obama, weighing in amid the national wave of racial tension and protest against police brutality, urged the nation’s mayors to review police use-of-force policies and make other reforms to combat racism.


— More huge protests spread across Southern California along with growing pressure to end curfews that have continued to be imposed. In L.A. County, there was confusion last night after officials announced an overnight curfew would be in place starting at 9 p.m., then Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that his department would begin enforcement at 10 p.m.

— In 1992, the last time Angelenos’ rage over police brutality boiled into an uprising, large swaths of South Los Angeles burned to the ground. This time, largely untouched by unrest. That’s by design.

Does Coronavirus Stop for a ‘Sanctuary City’?

California counties are pressing forward with plans to reopen the economy, even as the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise, in contrast with some states seeing a decline. Overall, California has reported 117,687 confirmed cases and 4,361 deaths.

But the leaders of one town in the Central Valley decided they weren’t going along with California’s stay-at-home orders. They declared Atwater to be a “sanctuary city” for business.

The reopening of the city, where there have been 27 cases of COVID-19 among its 30,000 residents, has been marked by a slew of awkward interactions and questions about how to both resuscitate a flailing economy and stay safe from a deadly virus.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— A new poll finds that most Californians surveyed support the current statewide restrictions to stem to spread of the coronavirus, or want tougher safeguards, and remain fearful about contracting COVID-19 and landing in the hospital.


— Untold numbers of employers, employees and others are turning to sometimes pricey new COVID-19 blood tests. But serious questions about their accuracy and the usefulness have the FDA trying to rein in “the wild, wild West” of antibody testing.

Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that Trump said he took to try to prevent COVID-19, proved ineffective for that in the first large, high-quality study to test it in people in close contact with someone with the disease. The drug did not seem to cause serious harm, though.


In 1972, Sen. Hubert Humphrey ran for president. Among his platform points was support for the American space program. He even made a campaign stop at the North American Rockwell plant in Downey as he sought the Democratic nomination.

On June 5, 1987, he was given a tour of the plant, where he observed a large model of a space shuttle called “Inspiration.” The Times reported that he attempted to appeal to the engineers, saying of his opponent Sen. George S. McGovern: “The man I run against voted to take away your jobs — he voted against it (the space shuttle) — because he doesn’t know anything about it.”

He lost the primary.


— The recent decision by UC regents to drop the SAT and ACT requirements fueled expectations that other colleges would follow suit. But it’s far from clear how quickly such changes might come, and competitive students are still taking tests.


— Fifty years ago this month, Los Angeles held its first Pride parade. This year, plans were initially scrapped because of the coronavirus, but Christopher Street West says they’re back on — as a Black Lives Matter solidarity protest march.

— California’s legal marijuana industry faces a year of declining sales as a result of the pandemic despite an initial spike in consumer demand.

— Gov. Gavin Newsom gave California counties permission to limit in-person voting for the Nov. 3 election as protection against the spread of the coronavirus — but only if they also offer three days of early voting.

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— Amid nationwide protests, the odds to join Joe Biden on the ticket as a vice presidential candidate may have shifted in Sen. Kamala Harris’ favor. But she still faces big hurdles.

— Former Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, who supervised the investigation of Russian election interference, conceded to a Senate committee that law enforcement made mistakes during the high-stakes probe, but he largely defended it.


— The U.S. government has escalated tensions with China, warning that it will suspend passenger airline flights from that nation if Beijing doesn’t allow American carriers to reenter that market. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a change in the U.K.’s relationship with China, pledging to open the door to almost 3 million Hong Kong citizens.

— As America rages over the death of George Floyd and police brutality, the Middle East is watching with surprise — and some schadenfreude.


— Long before COVID-19 changed the course of our daily lives, TV writers and audiences spent countless hours on stories of dystopias, apocalypses and disasters. What makes it so appealing?

— Throughout his career, director Spike Lee has probed the many ways in which America’s original wound of racial injustice has continued to fester. In Netflix’s “Da 5 Bloods”, he’s taking on Vietnam and the turmoil of the Trump era.

— The Cannes Film Festival was canceled. But now we know the films that would have screened.

Comcast shareholders, led by Chairman Brian Roberts, rejected a call from investors for an outside investigation into sexual harassment at NBC News.



— A private payroll report says U.S. companies cut far fewer jobs than they were expected to as the coronavirus pandemic slowed the economy.

— To make sense of it all, coronavirus researchers needed someone who could present the research in a more dynamic, visual way. Enter Mike O’Neal and Zoic Labs, a Hollywood VFX business better known for “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead.”


Major League Soccer’s players association voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with the league Wednesday, clearing the way for MLS to become the first major sports league in the U.S. to come back from the coronavirus pandemic.

— From golf to football, professional sports are banking on a return in the fall. But the competition for eyeballs on TV may backfire.

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— The first step to fixing structural racism in California is admitting we have a problem, The Times’ editorial board writes.


— Some white people are sending black people they don’t know money through Cash App. That’s no way to ease their guilt over racism, writes columnist Erika D. Smith.


— Staffers at the New York Times are in open revolt after the opinion section ran a column from Sen. Tom Cotton titled “Send In the Troops” calling on Trump to mobilize the military to shut down protests. (Daily Beast)

— Today is the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Here is a timeline of events leading to it. (PBS)


Like many tourist attractions, the Giant Dipper roller coaster at Belmont Park in San Diego’s Mission Beach was closed to the public in mid-March when stay-at-home orders were announced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 95-year-old ride couldn’t just shut down — it must be operated multiple times a day to keep its machinery from tightening up. Some folks at the park decided to have a little fun while they were at it: Last week, they strapped a dozen or so giant stuffed animals into the coaster’s 24 seats. They’ve been riding the coaster ever since, twice an hour, from noon to 6 p.m. every day.

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