Rich Higgins, the former top official of the National Security Council, on Wednesday, June 3, slammed retired Marine James Mattis over his criticism of President Donald Trump’s response to the unrest in cities across the country sparked by the death of George Floyd.

“Since Mattis has broken his silence, I will break mine,” Higgins wrote in a tweet. “Mattis accessed the administration thru an individual who was FIRED from the transition team. The reason for firing? He was meeting with Chinese & Vietnamese communists in Beijing.”

Higgins’s remarks came after Mattis, who served as President Trump’s first defense secretary, said he was “angry and appalled” by President Trump’s handling of the nationwide protests. 

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis wrote in a statement to the Atlantic. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding.”

 “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children,” he continued.

Former President Barack Obama fired Mattis in 2013 after the two allegedly differed on Iran diplomacy. Mattis was then nominated as secretary of defense by president-elect Donald Trump in 2016 after he met with Trump at the businessman’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to The Guardian.

The Guardian reported,

“Obama elevated Mattis to the leadership of U.S. Central Command, but the fit proved to be a bad one. Mattis, Obama’s Middle East aides said, displayed an eagerness to confront Iran far out of sync with an administration focused on diplomacy with Tehran. In 2012 congressional testimony, Mattis suggested the Syrian civil war provided the United States with an opportunity to deal “the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years” through deposing Iranian ally, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Obama fired Mattis the following year.

As a civilian, Mattis has become a critic of Obama’s.

Higgins claimed that an officer who had ties with communist countries had helped Mattis “access” the administration but stopped short of elaborating the details of the individual. 

Mattis then resigned in December 2018 when he opposed President Trump’s troop pullout from Syria and since stayed out of the public eye.

President Trump on Wednesday fired back at Mattis in his own blistering condemnation, saying that the only thing he has in common with Obama is firing Mattis who he called “the world’s most overrated general.”

“His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations. I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom ‘brought home the bacon’. I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!” President Trump wrote.

Higgins, a former Pentagon official who served in the NSC’s strategic planning office as a director, was fired in 2017 after arguing in a memo that President Trump is under sustained attack from subversive forces both within and outside the government. His memo describes supposed domestic and international threats to Trump’s presidency, including globalists, bankers, the “deep state,” and Islamists.