Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologized Thursday for his participation in President Trump's photo op at St. John's Church last week.

Why it matters: Milley's comments come as tensions remain high between Trump and the Pentagon over the incident, which was preceded by the clearing of peaceful protesters from the area.

  • "I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics," Milley said during a prerecorded commencement address to National Defense University.
  • "As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from."

The big picture: The president has also clashed with Defense Secretary Mark Esper on the topic, prompting chatter that he was losing favor with Trump.

  • "I did know we were going to the church," Esper said last week. "I did not know a photo op was happening. ... I do everything I can to try to stay apolitical and to try and stay out of situations that may appear political."
  • The Times reported that Milley similarly believed that he was going "to review National Guard troops and other law enforcement personnel outside Lafayette Square."

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Trump says he expects to announce a Supreme Court nominee "next week"

President Trump speaking prior to his departure from the White House on Sept. 19. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump said Saturday he expects to announce a nominee for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat “next week” and that the person will “most likely" be a woman.

What he's saying: "If somebody were to ask me now, I would say that a woman would be in first place, yes. The choice of a woman, I would say, would certainly be appropriate," the president told pool reporters.

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Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement Saturday she believes whoever is elected in the 2020 presidential race should pick the nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat.

Why it matters: Collins will be key in how the nomination process plays out. As one of the most centrist Senate Republicans, whether or not the Senate confirms Trump's SCOTUS nominee could hinge on her vote.