The Washington Post reports:
Army Gen. Mark Milley, the nation’s top military officer, said Thursday he was wrong to have accompanied President Donald Trump on a walk to a church through Lafayette Square, where he was photographed in his combat uniform with the presidential entourage.
The statement by the Joint Chiefs chairman risked the wrath of a president sensitive to anything hinting of criticism of events he has staged. Trump’s June 1 walk through the park to pose with a Bible at a church came after authorities used pepper spray and flash bangs to clear the park and streets of largely peaceful protesters.
Milley said his presence and the photographs compromised his commitment to a military divorced from politics. “I should not have been there,” Milley said in remarks to a National Defense University commencement ceremony.
The New York Times reports:
“I should not have been there,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a prerecorded video commencement address to National Defense University. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
His first public remarks since Mr. Trump’s photo op, in which federal authorities attacked peaceful protesters so that the president could hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church, 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.
“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.
BREAKING: Army Gen. Mark Milley, the nation’s top military officer, says he was wrong to have accompanied President Trump on a walk to a church through Lafayette Square, where he was photographed in his combat uniform with the presidential entourage. https://t.co/A1TSlMlO4m
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 11, 2020