Milley Apologizes For Accompanying Trump On Walk Ahead Of Church Photo-Op

President Donald Trump walks with Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley, and others from the White House to visit St. John's Church on... President Donald Trump walks with Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley, and others from the White House to visit St. John's Church on June 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. MORE LESS

Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Thursday expressed remorse for accompanying President Trump’s walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church with the President ahead of his surprise photo-op last week.

In pre-recorded remarks to a National Defense University commencement ceremony released on Thursday morning, Milley acknowledged the “national debate” that ensued following his appearance with Trump and other administration officials at Lafayette Park, the site where federal police forcibly removed peaceful protesters in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched. And I am not immune,” Milley said. “As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week. That sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society.”

Milley said that he “should not have been there” and that his presence “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 all can learn from it,” Milley said.

Milley’s remarks mark his first direct response to the backlash that ensued after Trump’s surprise church photo-op, which featured the President awkwardly holding a Bible in front of the church while standing alongside several members of his administration. The photo-op was staged shortly after Trump demanded that governors “dominate protesters” by activating the National Guard to quell the violence that has broken out during recent protests.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper — who also accompanied the President on the walk over to the church and broke from the President’s threat to invoke the Insurrection Act — told reporters at the Pentagon last week that he was “not aware” of the photo-op prior to when it occurred and that he tried “to stay out of situations that may appear political, which he claimed he is “sometimes successful” at doing.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: