Retiring joint chiefs chair refutes Trump: I 'never recommended a wholesale attack on Iran'

Retiring joint chiefs chair refutes Trump: I 'never recommended a wholesale attack on Iran'
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 27: General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, pauses while speaking at the National Press Club, July 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Milley fielded questions regarding President Trump's recent announcement that transgender troops will no longer be allowed to serve in the U.S. military in any capacity. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images).

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley is retiring on September 29th. But before he departs, Milley told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Wednesday that a story about his time serving under former President Donald Trump never happened.

Milley, CNN's Jeremy Herb recalls, was "Trump's chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the final 16 months of his time in office. He had an outsized role in some of the most consequential events of Trump's presidency, including the response to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and actions he took after January 6, 2001, when he was concerned that Trump could go 'rogue.'"

Herb continues, "Milley also became a significant figure in special counsel Jack Smith's indictment of Trump over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, when Trump claimed to have a plan to attack Iran authored by Milley. Trump was captured on audio tape talking about the plan with biographers for Meadows in July 2021 at his Bedminster, New Jersey, resort, acknowledging he had not declassified the document."

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Milley pushed back against Trump's recollection.

"I don't know the document they're talking about. I've never seen – no one's presented me with what it is they're talking about. So, I really still can't comment on it," Milley said. "But I can assure you that, you know, a military attack on Iran is a very, very serious undertaking. We have capabilities. We have plans – that's not particularly unusual – to comment on that. But I am not going to go further and discuss any of the details."

Herb notes that "in a superseding indictment filed against Trump in July, the special counsel's team alleged that Trump willfully retained a top-secret document that was a 'presentation concerning military activity in a foreign country,' which CNN reported was Iran." Herb also writes that Trump's final White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows crafted a "four-page report" that "contained the general's own plan to attack Iran, deploying massive numbers of troops, something he urged President Trump to do more than once during his presidency. President Trump denied those requests every time."

Milley explained to Zakaria that Meadows' account, too, is false:

I can tell you with certainty that this chairman never recommended a wholesale attack on Iran. And to do that, I think would require a significant degree of risk that we may or may not want to take given the circumstances, but that that part of it didn't happen. And I'm not sure I don't know the exact quotes that Mr. Meadows said, but I can assure you I know what I've done and it's not to recommend an attack on Iran.

READ MORE: Tuberville 'doesn't know what the hell he's talking about' after missing Joint Chiefs chair retirement date: analysis

Herb's scoop is available at this link.

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