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Mike Brest, Defense Reporter


NextImg:Pence calls Trump's accusations against Milley 'inexcusable'

Former Vice President Mike Pence described former President Donald Trump's comments about newly-retired Gen. Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as "inexcusable."

While Trump nominated Milley to be the 20th chairman during his presidency, their relationship soured both toward the end of his administration and has continued to devolve since then. Last week, Trump implied that Milley had committed treason during the end of his presidency, and Milley implicitly responded during his farewell ceremony, saying the troops took an oath to the Constitution and not a "wannabe dictator."

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“I don’t know who [Milley] was referring to there, but I must tell you that Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding Gen. Milley were inexcusable,” said Pence in an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Friday. “What I agree with is what Gen. Milley said about the oath that men and women in uniform take."

"I can’t affirm or comment on what or who Gen. Milley was referring to, but I can affirm his eloquent reference to the men and women who have served in the uniform of the United States," the former vice president added.

Trump has, in recent weeks, accused Milley of nefarious and even treasonous behavior as it relates to his interactions with his Chinese counterpart toward the end of his administration.

The retired chairman made two calls to Gen. Li Zuocheng, his counterpart with the People's Liberation Army, on Oct. 30, 2022, and Jan. 8, 2021, to assure his counterpart that the U.S. would not make a move to spark a war with them. These two calls, which were outlined in the book "Peril," by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, have been highly scrutinized by both Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill, despite Milley's insistence that these calls were no different than any of his other usual communications with foreign defense leaders.

“If the Fake News reporting is correct, [Milley] was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States,” Trump wrote in the post on Truth Social last week. “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."

A number of defense leaders condemned Trump's remarks, even as he repeats them.

Milley, who retired on Friday, said the U.S.'s military is unique because it takes an oath to the Constitution, not to a country, tribe, religion, king, queen, tyrant, or dictator.

“We are unique among the world’s armies," he said. "We are unique among the world’s militaries. 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 queen, or tyrant, or dictator. We don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator. We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution.”

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Shortly after Milley's retirement ceremony, Trump posted on Truth Social, "Slow moving and thinking Mark Milley should never have made those calls to China’s Military Leadership," before he attacked his former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who was critical of his initial comments. "Does this moron, together with WOKE FOOL Mark Yesper (Esper!), who said 'yes' to everything, have any idea how dangerous a situation he put our Country in? Look at his words - STUPID & VERY DANGEROUS!"

Milley told CBS's 60 Minutes that he has had to take "appropriate measures" to protect himself and his family and said Trump's comments about him are "also directed at the institution of the military."