After he was seen walking dressed in combat gear behind then-President Donald Trump through Lafayette Square after being forcibly evicted by Black Lives Matter protesters on June 1, 2020, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, drafted a resignation letter to inform Trump that he intended to resign.
“The events of the last two weeks have caused me to do some serious soul searching,” Milley wrote, “and I can no longer faithfully support and execute your orders as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I believe you were doing great and irreparable to my country. I think he’s made a concerted effort over time to politicize the United States military. I thought I could change that. I’ve realized I can’t, and I need to step aside and let Someone else try to do that.”
Milley was widely criticized for taking part in what critics saw as a staged photo shoot. Hours before his march through Lafayette Square, Trump had clashed with Milley, Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who opposed his demands for a militarized show of force to quell protesters.
“You are all losers! You are all fucking losers!” Trump said, according to the book. “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something? (wait he later recalled the discussion in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”).
In his letter, Milley told Trump: “You are using the military to create fear in people’s minds, and we are trying to protect the American people.”
“I cannot sit idly by and participate in this attack, verbally or otherwise, against the American people,” Milley wrote. “The American people trust their military and trust us to protect them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and our military will do just that. We will not turn our backs on the American people.”
Milley said he took an oath to the Constitution that “all men and women are created equal.”
“All men and women are created equal, no matter who they are, whether they’re black or white, Asian, Indian, no matter what color their skin is, no matter whether they’re gay, straight, or anything in between,” he said. he wrote her. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish or choose not to believe. None of that matters. It doesn’t matter what country you come from, what your last name is, what matters is us.” We are Americans. We are all Americans. That under these colors red, white and blue, the colors my parents fought for in World War I, means something to the whole world. It’s obvious to me that you don’t think of those colors the same way I do. It’s obvious to me that you don’t appreciate those values and the cause I serve.”
Milley added: “[I]It is my deep-seated belief that he is wrecking the international order and doing significant harm to our country abroad” by bowing to the kinds of “fascism” and “extremism” the United States fought against in World War II.
“You don’t understand what the war was about,” Milley concluded. “In fact, you subscribe to many of the principles we fight against. And I can’t be a part of that. It is with deep regret that I submit my letter of resignation.”
But Milley never sent his letter.
After consulting with current and former national security officials, including former Secretary of Defense and CIA chief Robert Gates, he decided to stay, later telling his staff he would instead “just fight [Trump] from inside.”
Milley also issued a public apology for the Lafayette Square episode.
“I shouldn’t have been there,” he said. a commencement address at the National Defense University on June 11 — 10 days after the incident. “My presence at that time, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
He did not mention Trump.