Traditionally, U.S. military leaders don’t take political positions, even in retirement. But we have come to an extraordinary moment in the United States when some of the most senior retired generals in the country are publicly slamming President Donald Trump over his erratic and “illegal” behavior.
On Wednesday, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly blasted the president as he defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, saying that Vindman did the right thing when he raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president in late July.
Kelly said that when Vindman heard Trump telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he wanted investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, he was guided by what the US military teaches — that you report to your superiors actions which you believe to be wrong.
“We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss,'” Kelly said, according to The Atlantic.
In his comments this week, Kelly also blasted Trump’s repeated claims that the media is “the enemy of the people,” saying, “We need a free media.”
While Kelly’s comments are the most wide-ranging public critique of the President and his policies by any of the generals who served in cabinet posts in the Trump administration, others have also spoken out.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a leading retired four-star officer, told ABC News in December 2018 that he found Trump to be both immoral and dishonest.
McChrystal’s comments came weeks after Adm. William McRaven, the architect of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, delivered a blunt rebuke of Trump in Washington Post, saying, “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”