Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley hold a press conference on July 21, 2021, at the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley hold a press conference on July 21, 2021, at the Pentagon. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

‘Not One Time’: Milley Says Joint Chiefs Did Not Violate Oath in Handling Trump

Chairman doesn’t deny that he and other chiefs mulled resigning if given an illegal order.

In his first comments on new accounts of his actions during President Donald Trump’s last days in office, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley did not deny he had concerns that Trump would not cede power, instead telling Pentagon reporters Wednesday that “not one time” did he or the other service chiefs violate the oath they took to defend the Constitution.

“I know there’s a lot of interest out there in all these books that are out there, quoting me,” Milley said, referring to the just-published I Alone Can Fix It, which alleges that in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection, he and the other Joint Chiefs had told each other that they would all resign rather than carry out illegal orders if necessary. 

“They may try, but they are not going to f**king succeed,” Milley is reported to have told fellow officers last January, referring to his fears that Trump would attempt a coup. “You can’t do that without the military.” 

Those accounts and others were published Tuesday in the book, written by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. 

Asked about the accounts, Milley declined to deny that the discussions took place. Instead, he said that the chiefs “always adhered to providing the best professional military advice” to Trump. 

“We take an oath. An oath to a document. An oath to the Constitution of the United States. And not one time did we violate that,” Milley said. “The military did not and will not be involved in domestic politics. We don’t arbitrate elections. That’s the job of the judiciary, the legislature and the American people. It is not the job of the U.S. military.” 

Austin took the opportunity to defend Milley.

“We fought together. We served a couple of times in the same unit. So I’m not guessing at his character,” Austin said. “He doesn’t have a political bone in his body.”