On Sunday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke out against President Donald Trump, saying he has "drifted away" from the Constitution. The Republican joins a growing chorus of former military officials who have condemned the president's response to the recent spate of protests after the president fired back on Twitter. Commenters are now divided over the issue.
Powell appeared on CNN's State of the Union this weekend, telling host Jake Tapper: "We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it." The comments struck a unique note in the current public discourse — Powell was the first African American to be named the Secretary of State, yet he is also highly distinguished within the military. He said that he was "proud" to hear other high-ranking officials speak out against Trump and to see protesters taking a stand against his administration.
"I think what we're seeing now, is (the most) massive protest movement I have ever seen in my life, I think it suggests the country is getting wise to this and we're not going to put up with it anymore," Powell said. "I watched the senators heading into the chamber the other day after all this broke, with the reporters saying, 'What do you have to say? What do they you to say?' "They had nothing to say. They would not react."
Trump fired off angry tweets at Powell throughout the day on Sunday. Some were belated rebuttals to Powell's statements on the air, while others were simply personal attacks. Having served under President George W. Bush, Powell has his own controversial legacy, yet he has been a consistent opponent of Trump since the 2016 election.
With all these political and ideological threads pulling in different directions, the discourse around Powell, Trump, the U.S. military and American racism was confusing on Sunday. Here's a look at how Twitter handled the conversation.
Stop attacking America's heroes! Our military is what has protected this country from dictators like you in the past. Colin Powell is a HERO. Trump is the "real stiff."— Black Lives Matter (@HKrassenstein) June 7, 2020
Trump has called Colin Powell, one of the greatest heroes to ever don the uniform, ‘highly overrated’. This is the act of a desperate man who hides out in a bunker while his twisted racist version of America burns at his feet.— Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) June 7, 2020
'Country Over Party'
Whenever Trump attacks men with honour and integrity. Accomplished military officers that served their country honourable, it's best to let the picture speak. pic.twitter.com/8MKpgl9RFp— Chidi®️ (@ChidiNwatu) June 7, 2020
I'm sorry, bone spurs, what did you want us to tell the four-star General? Just shout it from the bunker, my wifi is spotty.— Mary E. McGlynn (@MaryEMcGlynn) June 7, 2020
This isn’t about politics. This is about the future of our country. Grateful for your support, Secretary Powell. https://t.co/0xLPyXiIPb— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 7, 2020
Watching Republicans completely flip on their hero, General Colin Powell proves to me that Jesus Christ could resurrect and say he was voting for Joe Biden, and Trump supporters would find a way to smear him.— Black Lives Matter (@HKrassenstein) June 7, 2020
For those roughly my age (50+), Colin Powell's intense UN speech arguing for war with Iraq because of Weapons of Mass Destruction was a huge moment that shifted many off the fence & towards a reckless & needless war
He basically said, I am credible, trust me. And many did https://t.co/nuIbzHTAX7— Chris Arnade 🐢 (@Chris_arnade) June 7, 2020
Colin Powell, who lied to the entire world about WMDs in Iraq, paving the way for an illegal war that killed and displaced millions of innocents, gave rise to ISIS, and destabilized the Middle East, is actually out here today lecturing us about lies. https://t.co/qDNyZK1Lrx— Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo) June 7, 2020