WASHINGTON (AP) — Former defense secretary James Mattis is denouncing President Donald Trump’s heavy-handed use of military force to quell protests near the White House and says his former boss is setting up a “false conflict” between the military and civilian society.

Mattis adds that he has “watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled.”

The criticism is all the more remarkable because Mattis has generally kept a low profile since retiring as defense secretary in December 2018 to protest Trump’s Syria policy.

He has declined to speak out against Trump, saying he owed the nation public silence while his former boss remained in office.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app