Top US general says wrong to appear with Trump at protest site


Washington (AFP)

America's top general said Thursday he was wrong to appear with President Donald Trump in a photo op near the White House last week, staged after the area was forcefully cleared of anti-racism protesters.

"I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of military involvement in domestic politics," General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of the controversial June 1 incident.

Milley and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper were both strongly criticized for participating in what was widely seen as a political show by Trump, who walked with officials from the White House to pose in front of St. John's Episcopal Church, holding up a bible.

Minutes earlier, hundreds of peaceful protestors were forced from Lafayette Park between the White House and the church by police and national guard troops firing smoke bombs and tear gas-like pepper rounds.

Milley's presence was particularly criticized as he was wearing his camouflage battle uniform.

Normally military officials wear their formal dress uniform when holding meetings in the White House, and it for many implied Milley's support for Trump's stated desire to deploy active duty US troops against protesters.