In a Friday night post to Truth Social, former president Donald Trump seemed to suggest that Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley should be put to death for a phone call following the Jan 6 Capitol insurrection. Milley, a top U.S. military general, stated in September 2021 that the phone call had been intended to reassure the Chinese that Trump was not planning an attack on China.
“I know, I am certain, that President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese and it was my directed responsibility to convey presidential orders and intent,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “My task at that time was to de-escalate. My message again was consistent: Stay calm, steady, and de-escalate. We are not going to attack you.”
Milley’s phone call stoked considerable ire amongst some lawmakers — now, Trump has condemned the call as “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH.”
“Mark Milley, who led perhaps the most embarrassing moment in American history with his grossly incompetent implementation of the withdrawal of Afghanistan, costing many lives, leaving behind hundreds of American citizens, and handing over BILLIONS of dollars of the finest military equipment ever made, will be leaving the military next week,” Trump wrote. “This will be a time for all citizens of the USA to celebrate! 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. 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. To be continued!!!”
Far-right legislator Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., on Sunday also took aim at Milley in his weekly email newsletter, funded by U.S. taxpayers, in a stream of homophobic and violent invective. Gosar, in his newsletter, claimed that Milley, “the homosexual-promoting-BLM-activist Chairman of the military joint chiefs,” was to blame for the delayed deployment of the National Guard on Jan 6.
“After the riot was in full swing, the Chief’s request for National Guard was finally approved,” Gosar wrote. “But even after approval was given, General Milley, the homosexual-promoting-BLM-activist Chairman of the military joint chiefs, delayed. Of course, we now know that the deviant Milley was coordinating with Nancy Pelosi to hurt President Trump, and treasonously working behind Trump’s back.”
He continued: “In a better society, quislings like the strange sodomy-promoting General Milley would be hung.” The alt-right lawmaker said of Milley, “He had one boss: President Trump, and instead he was secretly meeting with Pelosi and coordinating with her to hurt Trump. That is, when he also wasn’t secretly coordinating and sharing intelligence with the Chinese military. How this traitor remains in office is a question we need answered.”
A Monday CNN report detailed how, every day, Milley staff pulls transcripts from Fox News primetime shows to see if he is being talked about. While the article cited the practice as a “pragmatic” one, owing to consistent slander from top Fox personalities, it also demonstrates how “intensely attuned” Milley is to “politics surrounding the military.”
Milley’s political dexterity behooved him throughout his career, as CNN notes, as did his ability to cope with Trump’s “mercurial demands” with “a judicious silence.” A former senior aid to Milley told CNN that “the chairman understood that Washington is an inherently political environment and that even as he sought to keep the military apolitical, he had to work with members of both parties to do his job.”
By the end of Trump’s tenure in the White House, Milley faced a barrage of flagrant criticism from GOP lawmakers and Trump allies, accusing him of cultivating a “woke” military and subverting civilian control over the military.
Milley has rejected culture-war claims, telling CNN earlier this month, “This military is a lot of things, but woke, it’s not. So I take exception to that. I think that people say those things for reasons that are their own reasons, but it’s not true.”