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Milley at the Pentagon, Sept. 22. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley held an off-the-record video call with top generals and network anchors this weekend to tamp down speculation about potential military involvement in the presidential election, two people familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: The nation's top military official set up Saturday's highly unusual call to make clear that the military's role is apolitical, one of the sources said — and to dispel any notion of a role for the military in adjudicating a disputed election or making any decision around removing a president from the White House.

  • Milley told the anchors that the U.S. military would have no role whatsoever in a peaceful transfer of power, one source added.
  • One official told the anchors not to be alarmed if they see images of uniformed National Guard members on Election Day; currently, they are not federalized but serving at the request of governors.
  • Through a spokesperson, Milley and the other generals declined comment.

The call follows public speculation by activists and political leaders about the role of the military. Joe Biden recently told the Daily Show's Trevor Noah that he was "absolutely convinced" the military would "escort [Trump] from the White House in a dispatch" if he refused to leave office.

  • Axios did not participate in the call and is not a party to the off-the-record agreement.

Behind the scenes: Two other four-star generals joined Milley on the call: commander of the U.S. Cyber Command Paul Nakasone and National Guard chief Daniel Hokanson.

  • ABC's George Stephanopoulos, CBS' Norah O'Donnell, NBC's Lester Holt, CNN's Jim Sciutto and Fox's Martha MacCallum participated, per one of the sources.
  • The generals talked about military efforts to secure key infrastructure against cyberattacks.
  • They confirmed that foreign actors have tried to influence this election, but said none appears positioned to change votes.

Flashback: Milley testified to Congress in August that "I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military." In the case of a dispute in elections, he said, "by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process."

Go deeper

Off the Rails

A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”

President Trump was almost shouting. He directed his son-in-law and his senior strategist from his private quarters at the White House late on election night. He barked out the names of top Fox News executives and talent he expected to answer to him.

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."

2 hours ago - Technology

Ex-N.Y. Post digital chief files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Richard B. Levine) (Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Former New York Post editor Michelle Gotthelf is suing her former employer, its parent company News Corp. and two editors, alleging she was reprimanded after complaining to senior executives that she was sexually harassed by retired N.Y. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. The N.Y. Post issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: "I felt that I owed it to myself and I owed it to the news organization and the people who answered to me," Gotthelf, who was a long time editor at the N.Y. Post, told Axios in an interview.