President Donald Trump shared a letter on Twitter from one of his attorneys that describes the protesters outside the White House as “terrorists.”
Trump said the letter from John Dowd, who represented him during part of the Russia investigation, was “of interest to the American people.”
Dowd’s letter was in reply to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who this week said he was appalled by the use of force against largely peaceful demonstrators in Lafayette Square, across from the White House. On Monday, those protesters were forced out with tear gas and rubber bullets so Trump could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for a photo with a Bible.
Mattis, who had previously avoided speaking out about his former boss, defended the protesters in a letter to The Atlantic.
“The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation,” he wrote. Mattis also said leaders shouldn’t be “distracted by a small number of lawbreakers.”
But Dowd claimed, without evidence, that the protesters were violent.
“The phony protesters near Lafayette park were not peaceful and are not real,” Dowd wrote. “They are terrorists using idle hate filled students to burn and destroy.”
Read the full letter in Trump’s tweet:
Earlier this week, Trump attacked Mattis by claiming it was an “honor” to fire him last year.
John Kelly, who was Trump’s chief of staff at the time, pointed out that Mattis was not fired.
Trump later tweeted that he fired Mattis, but Kelly just didn’t know it because his chief of staff was not in his inner circle and was “totally exhausted” by his job.
In 2016, Trump vowed “to surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” Since then, he has repeatedly attacked many of the people he surrounded himself with, including Mattis and Kelly as well as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former national security advisor John Bolton, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, among others.