President Donald Trump on June 7 criticized former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and said he wouldn’t “in any way” support the president’s reelection bid in November.
Powell, a Republican, told CNN that Trump “lies all the time,” has “drifted away” from the U.S. Constitution, and poses a danger to American democracy, as he joined a number of Republicans and former military leaders criticizing the president amid nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
“I cannot in any way support President Trump this year,” said Powell, a retired general who served in George W. Bush’s administration.
“We have a Constitution and we have to follow that Constitution, and the president has drifted away from it,” Powell told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” referring to the treatment of demonstrators participating in protests nationwide over the death of Floyd.
Powell added that he is “very close to Joe Biden on a social matter and on a political matter.”
“I worked with him for 35, 40 years, and he is now the candidate, and I will be voting for him,” he said, signaling that he will snub Trump for a second time. In 2016, Powell voted for Trump’s then-rival and Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton; he also voted twice for former President Barack Obama.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) noted on Twitter, “I respect Colin Powell’s service and he’s entitled to his opinion, like every other American. But he hasn’t voted Republican for 16 years.”
The criticism comes as the nation faces a trio of crises: widespread protests over police violence against black people, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, and a sharp economic downturn.
Colin Powell, a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars, just announced he will be voting for another stiff, Sleepy Joe Biden. Didn’t Powell say that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction?” They didn’t, but off we went to WAR!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2020
In response, Trump took to Twitter shortly after the interview to call Powell “a real stiff” and former Vice President Joe Biden “another stiff.”
“Colin Powell, a real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East Wars, just announced he will be voting for another stiff, Sleepy Joe Biden,” the president wrote. “Didn’t Powell say that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction?’ They didn’t, but off we went to WAR!”
Powell was instrumental in building the case for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, for which he has subsequently been widely criticized.
“Somebody please tell highly overrated Colin Powell that I will have gotten almost 300 Federal Judges approved (a record), Two Great Supreme Court Justices, rebuilt our once depleted Military, Choice for Vets, Biggest Ever Tax & Regulation Cuts, Saved Healthcare & 2A, & much more!” Trump continued.
The president later accused him of being “weak” and claimed the retired general “gave away everything to everybody—so bad for the USA.”
Colin Powell was a pathetic interview today on Fake News CNN. In his time, he was weak & gave away everything to everybody – so bad for the USA. Also got the “weapons of mass destruction” totally wrong, and you know what that mistake cost us? Sad! Only negative questions asked.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2020
He also said on Twitter that Biden, if elected, would weaken law enforcement and also “defund our military,” because “he has no choice” as the Democrats are allegedly “controlled by the radical left.”
“Sleepy Joe Biden and the Radical Left Democrats want to ‘DEFUND THE POLICE,’” Trump wrote on June 7. “I want great and well paid LAW ENFORCEMENT. I want LAW & ORDER!”
Biden, who has been supportive of demonstrators, said in an op-ed written for the Los Angeles Times that additional police oversight is needed.
“If elected, I am committed to establishing a national police oversight commission within 100 days of taking office,” Biden wrote. “We need to implement real community policing and ensure that every police department in the country undertakes a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices, with the federal government providing the tools and resources needed to implement reforms.”
Biden has secured enough delegates in primary elections nationwide to secure the party’s nomination.
Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.