US President Donald Trump trying to ‘divide’ America: former Pentagon chief

US President Donald Trump trying to ‘divide’ America: former Pentagon chief
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” former Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, said in stinging rebuke to the president. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 04 June 2020

US President Donald Trump trying to ‘divide’ America: former Pentagon chief

US President Donald Trump trying to ‘divide’ America: former Pentagon chief
  • ‘Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try’

WASHINGTON: Former Pentagon chief James Mattis issued a stinging rebuke of his erstwhile boss Donald Trump on Wednesday, accusing the president of trying to “divide” America and failing to provide “mature leadership” as the country reels from days of protests.
Mattis, who resigned in December 2018 over Trump’s ordering of a full troop withdrawal from Syria, also voiced support for the demonstrators whose anti-racism rallies have roiled the country.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mattis wrote in a blistering statement posted online by The Atlantic.
“Instead, he tries to divide us,” added the retired Marine general, who had previously argued it would be inappropriate for him to criticize a sitting president.
“We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” he stated.
Mattis described himself as “angry and appalled” after witnessing events of the last week, which saw Trump threaten a military crackdown on American citizens as nationwide protests turned violent in some cities.
The fury was ignited by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a black man who suffocated beneath the knee of a white police officer, and whose agonizing death was filmed by bystanders.
The demonstrations have mostly been peaceful, but some have degenerated into violence and looting as night falls.
Mattis wrote that the protesters’ call for equal justice was a “wholesome and unifying demand.”
And he slammed the decision to use force to clear peaceful protesters from near the White House on Monday to allow Trump to pose for photographs at a nearby damaged church, calling it an “abuse of executive authority.”
The photo op has become a lightning rod for criticism of Trump’s handling of the crisis, with religious leaders, politicians, and onlookers around the country expressing outrage.
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis stated.
“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.”
Trump dismissed Mattis with a tweet, rehashing his claim that he “essentially” fired his Pentagon chief.
“Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General,” the president wrote.
Mattis was head of US Central Command when Obama fired him in 2013 over his hawkish views on Iran.
For months after Mattis resigned, he refused to criticize Trump publicly, insisting the military must remain apolitical.
Wednesday’s statement appeared to signaled he no longer felt bound by that sentiment, as he called for solidarity — with or without the president.
“We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society,” Mattis wrote.
Retired Marine Corps General John Allen echoed Mattis’ criticism of Trump after his speech threatening to deploy the US military against American citizens.
“To even the casual observer, Monday was awful for the United States and its democracy,” the former commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan wrote in Foreign Policy.
“The president’s speech was calculated to project his abject and arbitrary power, but he failed to project any of the higher emotions or leadership desperately needed in every quarter of this nation during this dire moment.”
Allen, president of the Brookings Institution, also took aim at the president’s church photo-op.
“Donald Trump isn’t religious, has no need of religion, and doesn’t care about the devout, except insofar as they serve his political needs,” he wrote.


Driver who damaged cars worth millions in London given suspended prison sentence

Updated 04 December 2020

Driver who damaged cars worth millions in London given suspended prison sentence

Driver who damaged cars worth millions in London given suspended prison sentence
  • Ahmed Al-Husseini hit £300k McLaren MP4, £200k Bentley and £100k Porsche Cayenne during 92mph chase in 30mph zone

LONDON: A delivery driver who sped through central London as he chased another car before crashing into a row of supercars, causing up to £1 million ($1.34 million) of damage, was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence on Wednesday.

CCTV footage from August 2019 showed Ahmed Al-Husseini, 25, behind the wheel of an Audi A8 in the exclusive Chelsea area as he pursued the driver of a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, who he believed had damaged his car.

During the chase, Al-Husseini’s vehicle jumped through the air and collided with railings outside a house before crashing into a £300,000 McLaren MP4, a £200,000 Bentley and a £100,000 Porsche Cayenne. He also damaged an Audi A5, a Porsche Carrera 4S, a Land Rover Discovery, a Vauxhall Corsa and a Mitsubishi Outlander, Metro.co.uk reported. He suffered head and knee injuries in the crash and spent two days in hospital.

Prosecutor Brian Reece told Isleworth Crown Court that Al-Husseini, a delivery driver for a newspaper company in London, was filmed traveling at speeds of up to 92mph. The speed limit in central London is 30mph. He said the Audi was traveling so fast it became airborne at a junction, “at which point the defendant, as the driver, would have no control over it — and just across that junction is Moore Street, which is the place where some extremely valuable vehicles are parked.”

Reece added: “He gave the context of having been himself in a hit-and-run incident that he attributed to the driver of the McLaren SLR, and thought he was in pursuit of the SLR in Lennox Gardens four to five hours later.

“He claimed he had no recollection of the incident. He had had a full license for about a year and had no previous convictions. Settlement figures given in interview were between half a million and a million pounds for damage to these cars.”

Tony Nayager, defending, said: “If he’s going to drive at that speed then he’s going to bear the consequences. He’s readily in acceptance of his culpability for this matter.

“Perhaps Mr Al-Husseini is feeling rather sorry for himself, rather than anyone else. The car belonged to his father’s former partner; this later broke down their relationship and also his relationship with his father.”

Judge Sarah Paneth told Al-Husseini that only Audi engineering had saved him and a passenger in his car from serious injury or death.

“I’m not so much concerned about the value of these vehicles in monetary terms, it is the number of vehicles and the fact that to any of the people who owned these vehicles, Vauxhalls or Porsche Cayennes, they were all valuable,” she said.

“Whatever the value of the vehicles was, I have to look at the fact that you caused extensive damage to a very large number of vehicles. Damage to these vehicles was caused by you driving far too fast. It is frankly a miracle that no one was seriously hurt, perhaps other than you.”

In addition to the suspended prison sentence, Al-Husseini was banned from driving for two years. Under UK law he will have to pass an extended driving test to regain his license.