Top Military Official Apologizes for Appearing in Trump Photo Op

“I should not have been there,” said Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Zuma

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The nation’s top military official apologized Thursday for appearing in a photo op with President Trump, for which police cleared the way by tear-gassing peaceful protesters.

“I should not have been there,” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a prerecorded address to the National Defense University. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

Milley’s statement follows a stern rebuke of the stunt by former Defense Secretary James Mattis and represents a significant departure from the Trump administration’s often sycophantic obedience to the president’s whims. His comments also contrast with congressional Republicans’ general refusal to condemn the president’s authorization of violence against civilians exercising their right to peaceably assemble.

“As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it,” Milley said. “We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation, and we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the essence of our republic.”

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