Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 28, 2021. (Patrick Semansky/Pool/Getty Images)
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, has said he is not concerned about a repeat of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, adding that he never received an “illegal order” from former President Donald Trump to use the military to help him stay in power.
Gen. Milley was speaking in an interview on ‘This Week’ with ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sept. 17.
“I argued the case at various times for alternative courses of action—never received an illegal order,” Milley said.
Reports had surfaced in 2021 stating that some among the top military brass had voiced concerns that President Trump would initiate a coup following the 2020 election. These concerns were elaborated upon further in Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker’s book, “I Alone Can Fix It,” according to ABC.
At that time, Milley had communicated with his deputies that any and all efforts to do so would be unsuccessful.
“You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns,” Milley said, according to the book’s authors.
When asked in the interview if he was nervous about a possible repeat of the incidents of Jan. 6, Milley told ABC that he was not.
“I’m not nervous about it,” Milley said. “I don’t get nervous about a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot of combat. So I’m beyond that actually.”
Milley elaborated further on the breach, saying that he is confident that the democracy of the United States and the rule of law will prevail.
“These institutions are built to be strong and resilient, and to adapt to the times, and I’m 100 percent confident we’ll be fine,” he said.
When quizzed about the outcome of the 2020 election, Milley brought up the issue of the United States having faced multiple challenges in recent years, but that none would constitute the worst time in the nation’s history.
“There’s a term I’ve talked to people about—the ‘conceit of the present’—where people think that the present is always the worst. Well, it’s not always the worst,” he told Raddatz.
Milley pointed to several moments in history where Americans were faced with what he referred to as “tough times,” including the Great Depression, World War II, and the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King in 1968.
“This is not the toughest time. America will prevail, it will come through stronger on the other end, and the American people are gonna be just fine,” he said.
In the interview, Milley also stated that during his tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he considered resigning on several occasions, but was advised not to do so.
“Several people counseled me, and they reminded me that an officer—a commissioned officer—resigning is the consummate political act, and that it’s our obligation to stay out of politics. And if I were to resign, then that would be a grave mistake. And it would be putting the uniform even more into politics,” he stated.
Milley also said he will continue to hold firm to his personal policy of not commenting on any presidents, including former President Trump, under whom he was promoted to his most prestigious position.
“It’s a professional ethic. And the American people will be the deciders of who they elect as a president. It’s not gonna be a general. It’s not going to be someone in uniform,” Milley concluded.
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