Mark Milley, Ukraine Defense Contact Group
Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, September 19, 2023. Photo credit: DOD / Wikimedia

The most accomplished people in Donald Trump’s orbit keep telling us hair-raising things about him. But nobody in the MAGAverse cares.

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There are two main types of people who have worked with and for Donald Trump: Fellow grifters who will lie, cheat, and steal for him, and serious and competent individuals who thought that they could possibly limit the damage he does.

The former includes a bunch of people now under indictment, various white nationalists, and the who-is-who of the outrage-industrial complex. The only qualification required to join this group is to say things the former president likes.

The latter consists of accomplished people, many of whom were already in place when Trump assumed power. They usually have lengthy records of service and, at some point, realized that, at best, they might be able to prevent the worst.

Where they failed the country was that, perhaps out of a displaced loyalty to whoever holds the title of commander-in-chief, they did not speak out publicly at the time. Instead, many of them went to the media to leak accounts of some of the worst things Trump did.

Only later did they find the courage to speak out… only to then draw the ire of the former president.

A great recent example is Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who had backchannel conversations with his Chinese counterparts in the midst of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in order to assure Beijing that the US would not start a war to keep Joe Biden out of office.

Last month, Trump suggested that this amounts to treason and that Milley would have been executed in another era.

Milley responded in his farewell address by taking some thinly veiled shots at his former boss.

“We don’t take an oath to a king, or a queen, or to a tyrant or dictator, and we don’t take an oath to a wannabe dictator,” Milley said. “We don’t take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution, and we take an oath to the idea that is America, and we’re willing to die to protect it.”

That’s a great sentiment, but it would have been nice for him to say that as soon as he realized that Trump fit the category of “wannabe dictator”… and it stands to reason that he had that epiphany before last week.

Then there is retired Gen. John Kelly, who served as one of Trump’s chief of staff.

Just yesterday, he offered some of his harshest criticism of the former president to date in a statement to CNN.

What can I add that has not already been said? A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs, are all ‘suckers’ because ‘there is nothing in it for them.’ A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because ‘it doesn’t look good for me.’ A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.

Kelly was just getting started. He also said Trump is a “person who is not truthful regarding his position on the protection of unborn life, on women, on minorities, on evangelical Christians, on Jews, on working men and women.”

He added that the former president “has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about.”

Kelly also referred to the Milley situation and criticized Trump for “cavalierly suggest[ing] that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason — in expectation that someone will take action.”

Finally, Kelly noted that Trump “admires autocrats and murderous dictators” and has “nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law.”

Once again, it’s nice that he is saying something now, but this is information the American people should have had years ago.

Not that it would have mattered to the people in Trump’s MAGA cult. To them, it doesn’t matter what the president does or says… they have long chosen Trump over democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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