Why America's military leaders felt they had to take a stand
January 13, 2021 at 20:49
His incitement of a deadly riot at the Capitol in Washington ultimately dragged America's most senior military leaders, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, into an unprecedented political crisis.
Throughout his presidency, the four-star top brass have been adamant that the Pentagon wouldn't get involved in politics -- even as Trump repeatedly tried to bring it into his partisan orbit.
But after the shocking violence at the Capitol last week and the images of insurrection were shown around the world, the chiefs felt they had to speak, especially to get their message to American troops.
Top aides to Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, began to draft what is known as a "Memorandum for the Joint Force," and early on Tuesday the chiefs met to finalize their message.
After the riot they had met to talk about what happened and a way ahead.
On the face of it, it is a reminder to troops around the world.
Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values and oath, it is against the law."
But the chiefs well knew the memo would be read across the globe, several defense officials say.
The chiefs are not partisan, but they have a fine-tuned antenna to the political climate.
They know when it is time for them to speak out, as they did after racial unrest last year.
And they knew that this memo would put them at odds with Trump days before he left office as commander in chief.
On Tuesday Trump defended his remarks that had inspired his supporters to march on and riot at the Capitol.