Trump attacks Milley over critical race theory, calls for resignation

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE on Wednesday called for the resignation of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France Trump praises NH Senate candidate as Sununu weighs own bid Jan. 6 panel says it is reviewing Milley actions MORE, whom Trump appointed, over his recent defense of studying critical race theory in the military.

“Gen. Mark Milley’s greatest fear is upsetting the woke mob,” Trump said in a statement released through his Save America super PAC.

“Gen. Milley ought to resign, and be replaced with someone who is actually willing to defend our Military from the Leftist Radicals who hate our Country and our Flag,” Trump added.

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The statement marks the latest attack against the nation's highest-ranking general from Trump and his supporters after Milley gave an impassioned speech about the importance of being well-read and his desire to understand “white rage” in response to Republican questioning about critical race theory at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week.

“I want to understand white rage, and I'm white,” Milley said last week.

“What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that?” Milley continued, referencing the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters.

"I've read Mao Zedong. I've read Karl Marx. I've read Lenin," he added. "That doesn't make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?"

Following the hearing, conservatives began attacking Milley, with Fox News host Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonStefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right 90 percent of full-time Fox Corp. employees say they're fully vaccinated: executive MORE calling him a “pig” and “stupid” and Trump calling him “pathetic.”

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The attacks against Milley have come amid a broader GOP campaign seeking to make critical race theory an electoral issue, applying the label to all manner of racial and diversity teachings. 

Critical race theory dates back to the 1970s and, in broad terms, focuses on the intersection of race and law and how U.S. laws and institutions were built to maintain advantages for white Americans.

The GOP effort to weaponize the idea of critical race theory has increasingly turned its ire toward diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the military.

In his statement, Trump, who issued an order restricting diversity training that President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race On The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Health Care — GOP attorneys general warn of legal battle over Biden's vaccine mandate MORE reversed in January, called on Congress to “defund this racist indoctrination.”

The statement could add fuel to expected plans from some Republicans to use debate over the annual defense policy bill as a battleground for critical race theory.

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Trump’s statement also attacks Milley over an upcoming book that details a shouting match they reportedly got into over the general's refusal to lead the military in cracking down on racial justice protesters last summer. Trump again denied that happened in Wednesday’s statement.

It also slams Milley’s apology last year for accompanying Trump on his walk through Lafayette Square for a photo op at a church near the White House after the park was violently cleared of largely peaceful protesters. An inspector general report recently said it found failings in the clearing of the park but no evidence Trump’s photo op influenced the action.

At the time, Milley came under heavy criticism from retired military leaders and others he respects for the optics of accompanying Trump, particularly since he was wearing combat fatigues, and days later acknowledged he “should not have been there.”