Nations top military officer apologizes - "I should not have been there"
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark A. Milley, says he was wrong to accompany President Donald Trump on a walk through Lafayette Square that ended in a photo op at a church.
The nation's highest-ranking military officer apologized for accompanying President Donald Trump to a photo opportunity at a Washington church after authorities violently moved protesters from an area outside the White House.
"I should not have been there," Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a video commencement address to National Defense University.
"My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics."
Following a June 1 Rose Garden speech, Trump posed with a Bible outside St. John's Episcopal Church after protesters were forcibly cleared from Lafayette Square across from the Executive Mansion.
The protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The unarmed black man while a white Minneapolis police officer allegedly held his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. The officer has been charged with second-degree murder.
Before the photo op, Trump stopped short of invoking the Insurrection Act but threatened to deploy active-duty U.S. military if states failed to quell demonstrations. He then walked out to St. John's with Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other members of the Cabinet, including Attorney General William Barr.
Trump stood in front of the historic St. John's Church holding a Bible and posing for photographs. He later motioned to members of his Cabinet to stand alongside him for more pictures.