Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley listens to a Senators question during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, on September 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by PATRICK SEMANSKY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 4:20 PM PT – Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley defended his talks with China behind President Trump’s back, which Republican senators have seen as undermining the commander in chief at the time. During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked Milley why he didn’t resign after it became known those talks took place.
Milley went on to say, “as a senior military officer, resigning is a really serious thing and it’s a political act if I’m resigning in protest.”
The general claimed he was going to carry out President Trump’s orders unless they would be what he called illegal.
“My statutory responsibility is to provide legal advice or best military advice to the president and that’s my legal requirement. That’s what the law is. The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice,” he explained. “He doesn’t have to make those decisions just because we’re generals. If the orders are illegal, we’re in a different place. But, if the orders are legal from civilian authority, I intend to carry them out.”
Milley also claimed he was not trying to erode President Trump’s authority or decision making. He also said he only spoke with China because Beijing was worried about a possible attack on them by the U.S. at the time.