Retired four-star Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal fired a warning shot to anyone considering a job in the Trump White House, calling the president “dishonest” and “immoral.”
Asked during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” McChrystal told co-anchor Martha Raddatz that he wouldn’t take a job in the current administration and cautioned others against doing so.
“I would ask [White House job candidates] to look in the mirror and ask them if they can get comfortable enough with President Trump’s approach to governance, how he conducts himself with his values and with his worldview to be truly loyal to him as a commander in chief and going forward,” he said.
“If there’s too much of a disconnect, then I would tell him I think it would be a bad foundation upon which to try to build a successful partnership at that job.”
McChrystal’s comments come with the White House seeking to fill several key jobs, amid reports that few highly qualified people want to work within the administration of the mercurial president.
Following the abrupt resignation of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Trump was unable to lock down a replacement as several hoped-for candidates rebuffed the president’s embrace. Notably, Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was thought to be the president’s top choice when he announced Kelly’s resignation.
After discussing the job with Trump, however, Ayers declined the offer, an embarrassing rejection that kept the critical role of gatekeeper to the Oval Office vacant until he buttonholed Mick Mulvaney, his director of the Office of Management and Budget, for the job — at least temporarily.
Those caught in the recent revolving door at the White House include Secretary the Interior Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, White House counsel Don McGahn, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt among many others.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in a combative disagreement with Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria. McChrystal noted that if Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, couldn’t get along with Trump, then others might pause to think about what went wrong.
“I think maybe it causes the American people to take pause and say, wait a minute, if we have someone who is as selfless and as committed as Jim Mattis resign his position, walking away from all the responsibility he feels for every service member in our forces and he does so in a public way like that, we ought to stop and say, ‘OK, why did he do it?,'” he said.
McChrystal took exception to recent administration foreign policy moves, noting the decision to withdraw troops from Syria would lead to “greater instability” in the Middle East.
“If you pull American influence out, you’re likely to have greater instability and of course it’ll be much more difficult for the United States to try to push events in any direction,” he said. “There is an [administration] argument that says we just pull up our stuff, go home, let the region run itself. That has not done well for the last 50 or 60 years.”
The general also expressed strong disapproval over Trump’s behavior during his holiday visit to Iraq, arguing the president should not have turned the trip into a political spectacle by signing MAGA hats and criticizing Democratic politicians in front of the troops.
“If we encourage young military members to be Republicans or Democrats or anything in particular, you start to create schisms in an infantry platoon,” he said.
“I never knew who was a Democrat of Republican and even when we were generals, when you got in a room, you never talked about politics because it was considered bad form. I think if we allow it or encourage it, I think we are going to create something that could be a slippery slope.”
Until President Barack Obama relieved him of duty in June 2010, McChrystal served as the top Army officer in command of all international forces in Afghanistan. Obama took that step in the wake of published and critical comments the general made in a Rolling Stone interview about the Obama administration.
For any of his concerns about the previous administration, McChrystal said in his interview that he never doubted the basic integrity of those with whom he worked.
“I think it’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest, who tell the truth as best they know it,” he said. “I’m very tolerant of people who make mistakes because I make so many of them — and I’ve been around leaders who’ve made mistakes … but through all of them, I almost never saw people trying to get it wrong. And I almost never saw people who were openly disingenuous on things.”
In his interview, McChrystal said he couldn’t honestly say the same about the current administration. Worse, he was unsparingly blunt in his opinion of the president.
“I don’t think he tells the truth,” he said.
Radditz asked him directly if that meant he thought Trump was immoral?
“I think he is,” McChrystal said.