Sec. Bill Cohen

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Former Maine Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen is speaking out against President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. support from the Syrian conflict.  In an appearance on CNN Thursday, Cohen said that the decision amounts to the U.S. abandoning its allies, a move he says puts the nation in danger.

Ed Morin / Maine Public/file

AUGUSTA, Maine - President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis, was introduced and endorsed by former Maine Senator and Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen at the general's confirmation hearing Thursday morning.

“He has the nickname of  'Mad Dog' - it’s a misnomer," Cohen said. "It should be 'Braveheart' because what really characterizes Jim Mattis is his courage.”

Cohen told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee he was very impressed with Mattis as a commander during the time he served with him as defense secretary.

WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton's presidential bid is getting a boost from William Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine who served as Bill Clinton's defense secretary.

Cohen said on MSNBC that he would be uncomfortable with Donald Trump making decisions on "existential" issues. He said Trump lacks the necessary knowledge of the military, world history and global issues.

He said Clinton, a former secretary of state, has experience in the White House situation room and that he would feel more comfortable with Clinton having access to nuclear codes.

Ed Morin / MPBN

LEWISTON, Maine - Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and Maine U.S. Sen. Bill Cohen has joined a growing list of Republicans criticizing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's recent performance.  

Appearing on BBC television this week, Cohen said he was "appalled" by Trump's criticism of the Khan family "and the way he said it." The Khans are the parents of a Muslim American soldier who was awarded a purple heart after being killed in combat in Iraq.  They were invited to speak about their son at the Democratic convention.

"For him to, number one, criticize Mr. Khan by suggesting that Hillary Clinton may have written his speech, and, number two, to go after Mrs. Khan and indicate her silence must be telling us something.  Maybe she can't talk.  Maybe Sharia law.  I thought it was beneath anyone to do that," Cohen said.

Former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has taken a job as consultant for BBC News.

The Republican, who served as senator from Maine before being tapped to serve as defense secretary under Democratic President Bill Clinton, will serve as a world affairs analyst for broadcasts including the Washington-based BBC World News America.

Cohen's office confirmed the appointment. He was traveling Thursday and had no immediate comment.