Ex-US Defence Secretary James Mattis has denounced President Donald Trump, saying he deliberately stokes division.
He said he was “angry and appalled” by Mr Trump’s handling of ongoing protests over the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of police.
Mr Mattis berated Mr Trump’s “abuse of authority” – and backed protesters seeking to uphold American values, as did ex-President Barack Obama.
Mr Trump described Mr Mattis as an “overrated general”.
Mr Mattis quit in 2018 after Mr Trump decided to pull US troops out of Syria.
He has remained mostly silent since then, until his rebuke of the Trump administration was published in The Atlantic magazine on Wednesday.
In response to the fresh criticism, Mr Trump posted a series of tweets in which he claimed to have fired Mr Mattis.
“I didn’t like his “leadership” style or much else about him, and many others agree,” he wrote. “Glad he is gone!”