Outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told “60 Minutes” this week he will take “appropriate measures” to protect himself and his family following comments by former President Donald Trump suggesting Milley’s actions would warrant execution “in times gone by.”
Trump posted on social media last week alleging that the nation’s top military adviser colluded with China during the final months of the Trump administration, meriting the extreme punishment.
“This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States,” Trump wrote in a Sept. 22 post on Truth Social. “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.”
Milley, who this week ends his four years as the nation’s top uniformed military leader, has repeatedly said his calls with his Chinese counterpart were appropriate and within the duties and responsibilities of his job.
“Look, I’m a soldier. I’ve been faithful and loyal to the Constitution of the United States for 44-and-a-half years,” Milley told 60 Minutes. “And my family and I have sacrificed greatly for this country. ... As much as these comments are directed at me, it’s also directed at the institution of the military. ... And the American people can take it to the bank that all of us, every single one of us from private to general — we’re loyal to that Constitution and will never turn our back on it no matter what.”
Although Trump picked Milley for the Joint Chiefs post, the two have endured a public back-and-forth that first escalated in the wake of a photo-op incident during civil unrest in the summer of 2020, which drew widespread disapproval as one juxtaposing the military with domestic politics.
Trump ally Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., called Milley a “traitor” and made a similar suggestion about deserving execution for working with Democrats to hurt Trump.
Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told CNN Monday that there is “a legitimate fear” that if Trump were reelected as commander-in-chief, those who he has taken issue with, like Milley, could be retaliated against in some form.
“I’ve got adequate safety precautions,” Milley told 60 Minutes. “I wish those comments had not been made but they were. And we’ll take appropriate measures to ensure my safety and the safety of my family.”
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media