Gen. Mark Milley fumed that he was ‘fucking done with this shit’ after Trump used him to stage a photo op during George Floyd protests: book

Then-President Donald Trump departs the White House on his way to a photo op outside St. John's Church amid George Floyd protests, accompanied by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and other administration officials on June 1, 2020.
Then-President Donald Trump departs the White House on his way to a photo op outside St. John’s Church amid George Floyd protests, accompanied by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and other administration officials on June 1, 2020. Patrick Semansky/AP
  • Gen. Mark Milley was disgusted when Trump roped him into participating in a staged photo op last year, a new book says.
  • “We’re getting the fuck out of here. I’m fucking done with this shit,” Milley said and left the group.
  • He briefly considered resigning but stayed on when Colin Powell told him Trump was “a fucking maniac.”
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Gen. Mark Milley was disgusted and said he was “fucking done with this shit” after then-President Donald Trump used him and other senior officials to stage a controversial photo op at a church in Washington, DC, amid last summer’s George Floyd protests, a new book says.

Milley, then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper, then-Attorney General William Barr, and several others were summoned to the White House on June 1, 2020 and told to “line up” shortly after Trump gave a Rose Garden speech threatening to deploy US troops to quell antiracism protests across the country.

Reporters and photographers swarmed the group, led by Trump, as it trooped across Lafayette Square while police cleared the park by using tear gas and pepper balls on peaceful protesters. Trump was later photographed holding up a bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church.

When Esper realized he was participating in the photo op, he suddenly felt “sick,” according to “Peril” by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.

While they were walking to the church, Esper turned to Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was quoted as saying, “We’ve been duped. We’re being used.”

Milley is said to have agreed and turned to his chief of staff and said, “This is fucked up and this is a political event and I’m out of here,” according to the book. “We’re getting the fuck out of here. I’m fucking done with this shit.”

Milley then left the group.

The longtime general was ashamed at having been roped into a plainly political event and felt like “he was looking into a personal abyss,” the book said.

The next day, he sent a memo to the joint chiefs of staff and senior Pentagon officials reminding them of their duty to the country and the Constitution.

“Please remind all of our troops and leaders that we will uphold the values of our nation, and operate consistent with national laws and our own high standards of conduct at all times,” he said in the memo, a copy of which was published in “Peril.” Milley also included a handwritten note at the end, saying, “We all committed our lives to the idea that is America – we will stay true to that oath and the American people.”

Milley was so plagued by the photo op that he considered resigning, Woodward and Costa reported. The general is said to have asked former Secretary of State Colin Powell – who also previously served as joint chiefs chairman – if he should resign.

“Fuck no!” Powell responded, according to the book. “I told you never to take the job. You never should have taken the job. Trump’s a fucking maniac.”

Powell was one of several former top military officials to criticize the photo op. “We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it,” Powell told CNN.

Milley ultimately stayed in his role, but he publicly apologized for participating in the photo op in a keynote speech at National Defense University’s 2020 graduation ceremony on June 11, calling it a “mistake.” He made the comments while advising graduates to “always use a keen sense of situational awareness.”

“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. I should not have been there.”

“My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involvement in domestic politics. As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I’ve learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it,” he continued said.

“We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation, and we must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the essence of our republic,” Milley added.