Gen. Mark Milley, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he is taking appropriate measures to ensure his safety and that of his family after former President Donald Trump attacked the top military leader by suggesting he is a traitor who deserves to be executed.
Trump went after the Army general Friday in a Truth Social post, accusing Milley of being a “Woke train wreck” who went behind his back to communicate with China in the final months of the former president’s administration. Milley, who was nominated to the position by Trump, is set to leave his post at the end of this month.
“This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States,” the 2024 Republican front-runner posted. “This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act.”
In an interview this week with Norah O’Donnell for CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Milley said he stands by his communications with China and wished Trump had not posted that attack on him Friday.
“As much as these comments are directed at me, it’s also directed at the institution of the military. And there’s 2.1 million of us in uniform, and the American people can take it to the bank that all of us, every single one of us, from private to general, are loyal to that Constitution and will never turn our back on it no matter what,” he said in the clip released by CBS on Wednesday. “No matter what the threats, no matter what the humiliation, no matter what.”
“If we’re willing to die for that document … then we’re willing to live for it, too,” he continued. “So I’m not going to comment directly on those things. But I can tell you that this military, this soldier, me, will never turn my back on the Constitution.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley is responding to comments by former President Donald Trump suggesting that Milley deserves to be executed for communications the general had with China. https://t.co/gOlcC0rE41pic.twitter.com/pSgO9mNcEY
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 27, 2023
Milley’s calls to his Chinese counterpart were revealed in “Peril,” a book about the Trump administration by reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book describes how near the end of the Trump administration, Milley assured Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army in two calls that the U.S. would not launch an attack against China.
In 2021, Milley defended the calls by saying they were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job and were made “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.” Milley told O’Donnell that there was “absolutely” nothing treasonous about the calls.
The book also highlighted that Milley was reportedly concerned that Trump would attempt a power grab over the 2020 presidential election results. When testifying before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, Milley agreed with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Trump was “crazy” and assured the Democratic leader that the country’s nuclear codes were safe during his administration.
Trump, who never served in the military and avoided the Vietnam War draft, has a long history of disparaging U.S. veterans. He has described fallen troops as “suckers” and called the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) a “fucking loser” for becoming a prisoner of war. During Milley’s 2019 welcome ceremony, Trump demanded to know why a wounded veteran was invited to perform “God Bless America” when “no one wants to see that.”