Politics - News Analysis
‘I’m Done With This Sh*t’: Gen. Milley Almost Resigned But Stayed When Colin Powell Told Him ‘Trump is a Maniac’
The Founding Fathers of this country were not saints, indeed far from perfect. Slavery, women, non-landowners, etc. etc. But they were radically progressive for their time and unlike us keyboard warriors, they put their heads on the line for their ideas, literally.
One of their most radical and crazed “new” ideas was complete civilian political control of the military. The Constitution put the president as the commander of the military and that inherently meant that the military had to remain 100% apolitical. Within a span of four months later, the military might be answering to two people with radically opposing views. They had to stay out of politics. They still do, if this country’s democracy stands a chance.
** (Aside): Who else found it offensive to the point that their ears hurt every time Trump said “My generals…”? The phrase is “our generals” in the same way that they were not “My aircraft carriers,” or “My nuclear submarines.” They are “ours.”
The military hasn’t been perfect in this regard, but perfection is not a human standard. The standard is “very very good” and they have obtained that standard over hundreds of years. Thus it was that Gen. Milley was mad at himself (very mad at himself) and mad at Trump that he was used during the photo-op at St. John’s church, when the administration’s stormtroopers, dressed in black, without badges or name tags, removed protesters from Lafayette Square.
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Milley wrote a formal apology and took full responsibility just days later, much as it had to piss Trump off. Sec. of Defense Esper did the same. But according to Woodward and Costa’s new book Peril, behind the scenes, Milley was at least as mad at Trump as he was at himself. According to Business Insider (which has a copy of the book):
Gen. Mark Milley was disgusted and said he was “f*cking done with this shit” after then-President Donald Trump used him and other senior officials to stage a controversial photo op at a church in Washington, DC, amid last summer’s George Floyd protests, a new book says.
Milley, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper, then-Attorney General William Barr, and several others were summoned to the White House on June 1, 2020 and told to “line up” shortly after Trump gave a Rose Garden speech threatening to deploy US troops to quell antiracism protests across the country.
Interestingly enough, the Justice Department is supposed to be almost as apolitical as the Pentagon. DOJ litigates cases without changing positions through changes in administrations and DOJ would be the ones prosecuting anyone in the White House who commits a crime. Barr’s greatest failure (of many) was allowing the department and himself to become fully politicized. Barr should have had the same reaction as Milley. He did not. Telling.
Reporters and photographers swarmed the group, led by Trump, as it trooped across Lafayette Square while police cleared the park by using tear gas and pepper balls on peaceful protesters. Trump was later photographed holding up a bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Yes, to this country’s humiliation, we remember the pictures, particularly that of an Australian reporter, doing nothing more than his job, covering the events, getting the shit beaten out of him by some stormtrooper that obviously believed the media to be the enemy of the people.
While they were walking to the church, Esper turned to Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was quoted as saying, “We’ve been duped. We’re being used.”
Milley was so plagued by the photo op that he considered resigning, Woodward and Costa reported. The general is said to have asked former Secretary of State Colin Powell — who also previously served as joint chiefs chairman — if he should resign.
“Fuck no!” Powell responded, according to the book. “I told you never to take the job. You never should have taken the job. Trump’s a fucking maniac.”
To be fair to both Esper and Milley, it does sound like they were duped. They were told they were going to the Rose Garden for a statement on the civil unrest. Even if they were not duped, one can almost forgive them for initially going along with it. Had they refused, they risked being fired on the spot. Sounds good, right? No, not good. If they had been fired, Trump would replace them with people happy to have the opportunity to be “Trump’s general.”