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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