Trump accused by ex-Defense Secretary of putting US on 'the trail toward a dictatorship'
Former Defense Secretary William Cohen (screengrab)

During an appearance on CNN on Friday morning, former Defense Secretary William Cohen - who also served in the U.S. Senate as a Republican -- denounced Donald Trump in no uncertain terms, saying his use of military personnel against anti-police brutality protesters is a sign he has set the country on the path to a dictatorship.

To emphasize his point, he later called Trump the "dictator-in-chief."

Speaking with host Jim Sciutto, Cohen didn't mince words after the CNN host noted that the president and his former attorney called the protesters "terrorists."

"What does it mean for you to hear a sitting president dismissing a whole range of protesters, who in fact were largely peaceful around the White House, dismissing a whole range of them as terrorists? What does that mean to you?" the CNN host asked.

"It means that he has no understanding of what the rule of law really means in this country," Cohen began. "He has declared he wants to be the 'president of law and order,' but that's not what the declaration of this country is."

"If you go over to the Supreme Court, you see cut in stone, it is equal protection or equality under law -- equality under law," he continued. "So when he says law and order, he's missing something -- the word justice has to be there and that is what people of this country expect when they sign a contract with the U.S. government that there will be laws, there will be justice, law and order.'

"I remember a professor of mine saying liberty without order is a mess, but order without liberty is a menace," he recalled. "What I see taking place is the White House engaging in a very menacing activity and leading us down the trail toward a dictatorship where it is only the law of rule, not the rule of law."

Watch below: