(Bloomberg) -- The top U.S. general defended the military as apolitical Wednesday, while declining to comment on reports that he feared a coup attempt in the final days of Donald Trump’s presidency.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference that he had always offered his “best professional advice” to presidents and that it isn’t the military’s job to “arbitrate” elections.
“The military did not and will not and should not ever become involved in politics,” Milley said. “We stayed out of politics. We’re an apolitical institution.”
Milley’s remarks come after Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker said in a new book that Milley warned of a “Reichstag moment” on January 2, two months after Trump refused to concede defeat in the 2020 presidential election. It was a reference to an incident that Adolf Hitler used to arrest opponents and consolidate his grip on Germany, and the authors said Milley described Trump’s attitude as the “gospel of the Führer.”
Another book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender details that Milley “yelled” at Trump that he wouldn’t be in charge of the government response to protests for racial justice after George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer. Trump has denied the accounts in both books.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin defended Milley on Wednesday, saying that the general “doesn’t have a political bone in his body” and that “it’s really important to me that this department remains apolitical.”
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