Top Gen. Apologizes For Joining Trump Photo Op: ‘I Should Not Have Been There’
General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologized on Thursday for participating in President Donald Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church last week, saying he “should not have been there.”
- The New York Times reported that Milley’s apology came during a prerecorded video commencement address to National Defense University.
- The nation’s top military official said during the address: “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
- The Times recalled that “authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters” ahead of Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square to the church, where he staged a photo op while holding a Bible.
“As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from,” General Milley said. He said he had been angry about “the senseless and brutal killing of George Floyd,” and repeated his opposition to Mr. Trump’s suggestions that federal troops be deployed nationwide to quell protests.
- According to the report, Milley’s friends say the general had agonized for the past 10 days over showing up for the walk to the church, decked out in combat fatigues that he reportedly wears daily to work.
- Defense Department officials told The Times that Milley “believed that he was accompanying Mr. Trump and his entourage to review National Guard troops and other law enforcement personnel outside Lafayette Square.”
The newspaper noted that Milley’s remarks “are certain to anger the White House, where Mr. Trump has spent the days since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis taking increasingly tougher stances against the growing movement for change across the country.”