Murkowski 'struggling' over whether to back Trump in election

Republican senators are weighing in after Donald Trump's former defense secretary issued a scathing rebuke of the president.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski defended former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, saying that his criticism over the president's response to nationwide protests rang true: (quote) "I was really thankful. I thought General Mattis' words were true, and honest, and necessary and overdue."

Asked if she would support Trump in the 2020 election, Murkowski - who did not support Trump in 2016 - told reporters on Capitol Hill (quote), "I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time."

On Wednesday in a statement published in The Atlantic, the former Pentagon chief accused Trump of trying to divide America and roundly denounced a militarization of the U.S. response to domestic unrest.

Another Republican, Senator Mitt Romney, also praised Mattis.

(ROMNEY) "General Mattis' letter was stunning and powerful."

Other Republican senators said they respected Mattis, but shrugged at his criticisms.

Republican Senator John Cornyn:

"Clearly the country is divided, it's divided between supporters of the president and people for whom he can't do anything right and that's unfortunately where we are right now."

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Fox News acknowledged that Trump can be - quote - "a handful" and can "do better," but said Trump had been unfairly targeted throughout his presidency and dismissed Mattis' rebuke.

Trump reacted on Twitter by calling Mattis "the world's most overrated General!"The remarks by Mattis, who resigned over policy differences in 2018, are the strongest so far from a former Pentagon leader over Trump's response to nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

The president has threatened to deploy troops to control the protests - which at times have turned violent… setting off alarm bells among democrats and within the U.S. military.

Mattis' comments follow denunciations by other retired top brass, including Navy admiral Mike Mullen and retired Army general Martin Dempsey, both former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.