Monday June 8, 2020
Colin Powell endorsed Democratic former US vice-president Joe Biden on Sunday and said Donald Trump’s behaviour endangers democracy, becoming the first major Republican to publicly back Trump’s rival ahead of November’s election.
Powell, who led the US military during the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq under Republican former President George HW Bush and later led the Department of State under President George W Bush, said Trump has “drifted away” from the US Constitution and “lies about things”.
“I was deeply troubled by the way in which he was going around insulting everybody,” Powell told CNN. “Insulting Gold Star mothers, insulting John McCain, insulting immigrants, and I’m a son of immigrants. Insulting anybody who dared to speak against him.”
“And that is dangerous for our democracy, it is dangerous for our country. And I think what we’re seeing now, the most massive protest movement I have ever seen in my life, I think suggests the country is getting wise to this and we’re not going to put up with it any more.”
“I cannot in any way support President Trump this year,” Powell, who did not vote for the Republican president in 2016, told CNN. Asked if he would vote for Biden, he added: “I will be voting for him.”
Trump, who has been critical of the Iraq war, in a tweet called Powell “a real stiff”. The president later accused him of being “weak” and claimed the retired general “gave away everything to everybody – so bad for the USA”.
Powell is the latest former top military officer to rebuke Trump in the wake of sweeping mass protests aimed at fighting racial injustice spurred by the 25 May death of an unarmed black man in Minnesota.
Former defense secretary Jim Mattis and other retired officers have condemned Trump in recent days in a rare rebuke with few precedents in US history.
A few Republican lawmakers have also spoken out against Trump’s handling of the outcry and have raised questions about their support for his re-election bid, though most have remained quiet or continued to voice support for the president.
US Senator Lisa Murkowski last week told reporters she was struggling over whether she would back Trump in the 3 November election and praised Mattis’s strong words as did fellow Republican Mitt Romney.
Powell, who is black, was one of the few prominent Republicans to denounce Trump during the former reality television star’s 2016 presidential run and publicly endorse Trump’s then-rival Hillary Clinton.