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Chairman of Joint Chiefs issues apology for appearing with President Trump in church photo-op
Photo by Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chairman of Joint Chiefs issues apology for appearing with President Trump in church photo-op: 'I should not have been there'

Speaking out

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says he's sorry for taking part in President Donald Trump's photo-op at St. John's Church on June 1.

Trump and members of his administration faced criticism after walking from the White House to St. John's Church to pose for a photo. Controversy erupted when, prior to the president's appearance, law enforcement used crowd-dispersing tactics to clear out protesters.

What are the details?

In a video for the National Defense University's commencement ceremony, Milley said, "As senior leaders, everything you do will be closely watched. And I am not immune. 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 involved in domestic politics," he continued.

Amid protests, Trump appeared in front of the church with Milley as well as Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

"As a commissioned, uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from," Milley admitted. "And I sincerely hope we can all learn from it."

Milley added, "We who wear the cloth of our nation come from the people of our nation. And we must hold dear the principles of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our Republic."

According to the New York Times, the senior military member also spoke out against the police-involved death of George Floyd.

"I am outraged by the senseless and brutal killing of George Floyd," he said. "His death amplified the pain, the frustration, and the fear that so many of our fellow Americans live with day in [and] day out. The protests that have ensued not only speak to his killing, but also to the centuries of injustice toward African Americans. We should all be proud that the vast majority of protests have been peaceful."

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