While Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley declined to comment on specific claims in the book at a rare Pentagon press conference, he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were emphatic on Wednesday that the military is a strictly “apolitical” institution and should stay.
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“I, 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 Constitution of the United States, and not once did we violate that,” said Milley. . told reporters who inquired about the extracts from the book. “All the while, from the moment of commissioning until today, I can say with certainty that each of us has kept our oath of allegiance to that document, the Constitution, everything in it,” he said, referring to the Joint Chiefs.
“I want you to know, and I want everyone to know, I want America to know, that the US military is an apolitical institution – we were then, we are now – and our oath is to the Constitution, not to any individual. too,” he said. “And the military has and will not and should never become involved 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 American military . We stayed out of politics, we are an apolitical institution.”
Austin went out of his way to defend Milley.
“We fought together, we served in the same units a few times,” Austin said. “I’m not betting on his character – he doesn’t have a political bone in his body.”
He had previously described to aides that he had a stomach-churning feeling that some of the troubling early stages of 20th-century fascism in Germany were unfolding in 21st-century America. He saw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric about voter fraud and that of Adolf Hitler urged his followers at the Nuremberg rallies that he was both a victim and their savior.”This is a moment in the Reichstag,” Milley told aides. “The Gospel of the Führer,” Rucker and Leonnig wrote.
The authors say Milley believed Trump was fueling unrest after the election, denouncing what he called “brownshirts in the streets,” although an official told ABC News the comment referred to radical members of the Oath Keepers and the so-called ” boogaloo guys,” not Trump supporters in general.
An early sign of unease between Trump and Milley came during Black Lives Matter protests 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, though he peeled off for the president’s infamous photo opportunity.
“I shouldn’t have been there,” Milley said in a pre-recorded video opening address for the National Defense University. “My presence at that time and in that environment created an image of the military being involved in domestic politics.”
In August 2020, Milley told Congress there is no role for the US military in elections.
Then, in January 2021, after the Capitol riots, Milley and the other seven members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed an internal memo to the military stating that “the violent riots in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 were a direct attack on the US Capitol building, and our constitutional process,” warned them that any act to disrupt the constitutional process is against the law.
Milley said on Wednesday that he and the other members of the Joint Chiefs have always given the “best military professional advice” to Trump and every other president they have served under.
“We’ve always stuck to giving the best professional military advice except. It was candid, honest, at every opportunity. We do that all the time, every time,” he said.
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