Source: The Hill
Sep 14, 2023
Milley denies claims he told Trump to attack Iran
BY BRAD DRESS
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley offered his first public denial this week of claims that he told former President Trump to attack Iran during his administration.
“I can assure you that not one time have I ever recommended to attack Iran,” Milley told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an excerpt of an interview published Thursday.
The claims are at the center of Trump’s legal battle over federal charges for allegedly failing to return classified documents to the government.
The former president was captured in a 2021 audio recording in the case boasting about a classified document that he said shows Milley recommended he attack Iran.
Milley, who is conducting a round of exit interviews as he steps down from his post at the end of this month, told CNN he doesn’t “know the document they’re talking about.”
“No one’s presented me with what it is they’re talking about. So I really still can’t comment on it,” Milley said in the interview. “But I can assure you that … a military attack on Iran is a very, very serious undertaking.”
It’s unclear whether the allegations made by Trump are factual, but the document in question appears to exist.
A July indictment from the special counsel investigating Trump charges the former president with illegally retaining a document on a “presentation concerning military activity in a foreign country,” which CNN has reported was related to Iran.
Trump had a tumultuous relationship with Milley after he tapped the general to be the nation’s highest-ranking officer in 2018. In the final days of Trump’s presidency, Milley reportedly moved to ensure the president did not attack Iran, and the 2021 audio may have been Trump trying to prove his side of the story.
Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has backed his former boss in the feud. Meadows claimed in his book, “The Chief’s Chief,” that Milley advised Trump more than once to attack Iran.
But Milley told CNN he can speak “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,” he said. “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.”