After stepping down as America’s highest-ranking military officer on Friday, retiring Gen. Mark Milley issued a reminder about the role of the armed forces ― one that seemed particularly directed at former President Donald Trump.
“We don’t take an oath to a country, we don’t take an oath to a tribe, we don’t take an oath to a religion, we don’t take an oath to a king or a queen, or to a tyrant or a dictator, and we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator,” the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at his farewell ceremony. “We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution, and we take an oath to the idea that is America, and we’re willing to die to protect it.”
🚨🚨🚨Wow, outgoing CJS Chair Milley hits Trump at retirement ceremony: "We don't take an oath to a king, or queen, or a tyrant or a dictator. And we don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator ...we take an oath to the Constitution ... and we're willing to die to protect it". pic.twitter.com/AH2eQObge4
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) September 29, 2023
Trump challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election to keep himself in office ― an effort for which he is now fighting federal criminal charges ― and sought demonstrations of personal loyalty from military officials, including Milley, whom he appointed as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2019.
Trump told his former chief of staff John Kelly that he wished he had generals like those who reported to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler because they were “totally loyal,” according to the 2022 book “The Divider: Trump in the White House,” by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser.
In 2020, Trump became enraged with Milley when he and his team declined to order troops to attack Black Lives Matter protesters near the White House. Milley eventually agreed to walk with Trump through a park from which demonstrators were removed but later apologized for participating in the then-president’s photo-op.
After Trump lost the election to President Joe Biden later that year, Milley focused on trying to prevent the outgoing commander in chief from unlawfully holding on to power, according to the 2021 book “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
Trump has spent years attacking Milley.
Last week, the ex-president and current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination claimed, without providing evidence, that Milley had committed treason. “In times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform on Sept. 22.
Milley has taken safety precautions for himself and his family, he told CBS in an interview released on Wednesday.
Air Force Gen. CQ Brown was sworn in on Friday to succeed Milley as the 21st chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.