What? Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Apologizes for Walk to St. John's Church with Trump

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, left, sitting next to U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, right, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on long-term budgetary challenges. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

 

After rioters tried, but fortunately failed, to burn down St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square, President Trump, accompanied by several advisors and cabinet members, famously walked to the church and was photographed as he held up a Bible.

Gen. Mark Milley, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was among that group.

On Thursday morning, during a prerecorded commencement address to the graduating class of the National Defense University, Milley said, “I should never have been there.”

He apologized to the graduates because it had been a “political event” and that the military must remain apolitical.

He told them:

As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched and I am not immune, as many of you saw the results of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week. That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society. I should not have been there. My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from and I sincerely hope we can all learn from it.

First, I would argue that his apology was political. It was a bow to his peers in the Washington swamp whose opinions apparently mean so much to him. I see it as cowardly. I would have expected more from the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S.

Second, President Trump’s visit to the church was a symbol that America will stand up to the depraved animals who thought this was a good idea. It was a message to those who are intent on destroying America that they will not prevail.

Finally, I would remind Gen. Milley of a certain oath he took a long time ago. He solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

Either you’re for the rule of law and against terrorism, or you’re not.

Standing up for the rule of law and against terrorism isn’t politics Gen. Milley. It’s your job.