Politico

Austin defends Milley following Trump book revelations


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday said he had “tremendous faith and confidence” in Gen. Mark Milley following reports that the Joint Chiefs chair sought to prevent former President Donald Trump from perpetrating a coup in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

“I’ve known the chairman for a long time. We’ve fought together. We’ve served a couple of times in the same units,” Austin told reporters at the Pentagon. “I’m not guessing at his character. He doesn’t have a political bone in his body.”

The remarks from the secretary come as Milley has faced heightened criticism from some conservatives for revelations in forthcoming books about the end of Trump’s presidency — including reporting that Milley and other military leaders had informally planned how they would block the then-commander-in-chief from using U.S. troops in a way that could help him hold onto power.

Following the revelations, conservatives including Fox News host Tucker Carlson accused Milley of being overly political and said he should be fired. Trump himself attacked Milley in a series of statements and suggested he should be “court-martialed and tried.”

On Wednesday, Milley declined to comment directly on the books’ allegations and did not say whether he was troubled by the view that he had used his post for political reasons.

But the four-star general did say “with certainty” that he and the members of the Joint Chiefs had “maintained our oath of allegiance” to the Constitution.

“We also maintained the tradition of civilian control of the military,” Milley added. “We did that without fail. And we also maintained the tradition of an apolitical military. We did that then. We do that now. And we will do that forever. All the time.”

Pressed further on the recent reporting, Milley emphasized that the military “is an apolitical institution … and our oath is to the Constitution, not to any individual at all. The military did not and will not and should not ever get involved in domestic politics.”

“We don’t arbitrate elections,” he said. “That’s the job of the judiciary and the legislature and the American people. It’s not the job of the U.S. military.”

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