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Pentagon official walks back Trump claim that top military officer is in charge of protest response

  • June 03, 2020

WASHINGTON — A senior Defense official told reporters Tuesday that the nation’s highest-ranking military officer’s role had not changed, a day after President Donald Trump told governors he was putting the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “in charge” of efforts to quell demonstrations.

“Although the military and the Department are involved, Gen. Milley remains an advisor to the president, remains an advisor to the Secretary, his role has not changed,” the Defense official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In a contentious call with the nation’s governors Monday, Trump described Joint Chiefs Chairman U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley as “a warrior” with “a lot of victories and no losses,” according to audio obtained by NBC.

“He hates to see the way it’s being handled in the various states. And I’ve just put him in charge,” Trump added.

It was not immediately clear what Milley would be tasked with as it relates to the domestic unrest across the nation, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

When asked to elaborate, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Monday that she would not “get ahead of any actions that will be announced” on the matter.

The Pentagon, also on Monday, added few details. “The chairman will continue to advise the secretary of Defense,” Pentagon spokesperson U.S. Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said.

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