White House press secretary Jen Psaki rejected calls for Gen. Mark Milley's dismissal at Wednesday's press briefing, saying the same people were silent as former President Trump "fomented an insurrection."
Q Thank you, Jen. Just to put a finer point on it, because you brought up the context a couple of times —
MS. PSAKI: Yeah.
Q — does President Biden believe that General Milley may have been acting in the national interest by circumventing a former President who he feared was acting erratically?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s the obligation of every Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to follow constitutional orders to prevent unlawful military action. That’s what the President believes.
But it’s also important to understand the context of when this reporting was happening, during — and the fact that the former President was fomenting an insurrection and there was broad concern from a range of members of his national security team about his behavior and fitness for office. And I know you all know and have reported on that context, but that is missing a little bit as people are discussing this.
Q So you say General Milley may have been acting patriotically by having these conversations with the Chinese?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to give further analysis, other than to say that the President believes he’s patriotic, that he is — his fidelity to our Constitution is unquestionable, and he has complete confidence in him.
Q And has President Biden had a fuller conversation with General Milley about all this, since the book’s details were publicized yesterday?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any other further conversations to read out.
Q Even if the President believes that the intentions and the patriotism of General Milley were in line with his own values, is there a point where criticism makes General Milley unable to continue in this role because it is a new administration, it’s a new day, and there are some questions about if he exceeded his authority?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, the President has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our Constitution. I can’t speak to the former President’s experience with him or the former President’s views of him, but the — this President — this current President, who follows the Constitution, who’s not fomenting an insurrection, who follows the rule of law, has complete confidence in Chairman Milley and him serving — continuing to serve in his role.
Q And even as Republicans may criticize him and have questions about his suitability to continue, would that be a factor that President Biden would consider, separate from his judgment about how he conducted himself before?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t think the President is looking for the guidance of members of Congress who stood by while the — their — the President of their party — the President of the United States and the leader of their party fomented an insurrection and many of them were silent.