Donald Trump Asked Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley, ‘Are You Soft on Transgenders?’

Author: Trudy Ring

When President Donald Trump offered Gen. Mark Milley the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the then-president asked Milley if he was “soft on transgenders,” according to a new interview with the general in The Atlantic.

Milley will retire as Joint Chiefs chairman, the highest-ranking post in the U.S. military, September 30. He has held the job since 2019.

In making the offer, Trump said that Secretary of Defense James Mattis “says you’re soft on transgenders. Are you soft on transgenders?” as quoted in The Atlantic.

Milley replied, “I’m not soft on transgender or hard on transgender. I’m about standards in the U.S. military, about who is qualified to serve in the U.S. military. I don’t care who you sleep with or what you are.”

Trump had announced a ban on military service by out transgender people in 2017, and it went into effect in 2019. There were several lawsuits over the ban, and President Joe Biden rescinded it after he took office in 2021.

Overall, Milley recounts that “Trump’s attitude toward the uniformed services seemed superficial, callous, and, at the deepest human level, repugnant,” The Atlantic reports.

One demonstration of that attitude came after a wounded veteran, former Army Capt. Luis Avila, sang at the welcome ceremony for Milley in 2019. Avila had lost one leg when an explosive device went off in Afghanistan, and he also had suffered heart attacks, strokes, and brain damage due to his service.

After the performance, Milley told The Atlantic, Trump said to him, “Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.” He told Milley not to invite Avila to any other events.

Also, discussing a Navy SEAL who was accused of war crimes, Trump said all combat troops are “just killers. What’s the difference?”

“Milley found himself in a disconcerting situation: trying, and failing, to teach President Trump the difference between appropriate battlefield aggressiveness on the one hand, and war crimes on the other,” The Atlantic reports.

Milley further notes that he regretted being part of the 2020 incident in which Trump had federal troops attack peaceful anti-racism protesters to disperse them so Trump could pose with a Bible in front of a church. Milley and other military members had joined Trump in walking across Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square at the time.

Milley later said, “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.” Afterward, Trump told Milley that apologies are a sign of weakness, the general recalled to The Atlantic.

The full Atlantic story is available online only to subscribers, but several news outlets have summaries, such as this one in The Independent.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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