Top general responds to reports he feared Trump would use military after losing election
America's Supreme General spoke publicly for the first time on Wednesday whether he feared then-President Donald Trump would attempt to involve the military after the 2020 election, as reported in a newly published book.
While Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley refused to comment on certain claims in the book at a rare press conference at the Pentagon, he and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Wednesday insisted that the military is and should remain a strictly "apolitical" institution.
"Myself, the other members of the Joint Chiefs and all of us in uniform, we take an oath, an oath on a document, an oath on the United States Constitution, and we never violate that," Milley told reporters after the book excerpts asked. "All along, from the inception to this day, I can safely say that each of us has kept our oath of allegiance to this document, the Constitution, everything in it," he said, referring to the Joint Chiefs.
"I want you to know, and I want everyone to know, that the US military is an apolitical institution - we were then, we are today - and our oath is on the Constitution, not the Constitution, not an individual at all", he said. "And the military did not want to and will not interfere in domestic politics. We do not mediate elections. That is the job of the judiciary and the legislature and the American people. It is not the job of the US military: "We have stayed out of politics, we are an apolitical institution."
Austin did everything he could to defend Milley.
"We fought together, we served in the same units a few times," said Austin. "I don't like his character - he has no political bones in his body."
Before the January 6 uprising at the Capitol, Milley saw ominous parallels between the political unrest in the United States and the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, such as "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Final Catastrophic Year." by Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.
“He had previously described to his helpers that he kept feeling that some of the unsettling early stages of 20th century fascism in Germany were repeating themselves in 21st century America. He saw parallels between Trump's rhetoric about electoral fraud and Adolf Hitler's “insisting on his supporters at the Nazi party rallies in Nuremberg that he was both a victim and a savior. "This is a Reichstag moment," said Milley to his aides. 'The Leader's Gospel,' "wrote Rucker and Leonnig.
PHOTO: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 1, 2020 in Washington. (Almond Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)
The authors say that Milley believed that Trump was stirring up unrest after the election and condemned what he called "brown shirts in the streets," although an official told ABC News the comment referred to radical members of the Oath Keepers and so-called "Boogaloo Boys", not Trump supporters in general.
An early sign of discomfort between Trump and Milley came amid the protests against Black Lives Matter in Washington, DC, last July, when Milley apologized for taking part in Trump's controversial walk from the White House to St. John's Church, despite himself before the notorious president pulled off photo opportunity.
"I shouldn't have been there," Milley said in a taped video addressing the National Defense University. "My presence in this moment and in this environment has created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics."
PHOTO: President Donald Trump leaves the White House to visit St. John's Church with Attorney General William Barr (left), Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (center) and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (right), June 1, 2020. (Patrick Semansky / AP)
MORE: Milley apologizes for attending Trump Church Walk: "I shouldn't have been there"
In August 2020, Milley told Congress that the U.S. military would play no role in elections.
MORE: Top General Defends West Point Students Studying Critical Racial Theory
Then in January 2021, following the Capitol Uprising, Milley and the seven other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed an internal memo to service members that read, "The Violent Washington DC Uprising on Building 6 and Our Constitutional Process" , warns them that any act that disrupts the constitutional process is against the law.
Milley said Wednesday that he and the other members of the Joint Chiefs have always given "the best military professional advice" to Trump and any other president they have served under.
"We have always made sure to give the best professional military advice, save for none. It has been open and honest at every opportunity. We do that every time," he said.
Top General reacts to reports that he feared Trump would deploy military after the election defeat, originally posted on abcnews.go.com
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