'Sad moment' when John Kelly showed he'll support Trump 'no matter what': Adm. Mike Mullen

The former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair, Adm. Mike Mullen, joined Martha Raddatz for an exclusive interview on "This Week."
8:08 | 11/26/17

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Transcript for 'Sad moment' when John Kelly showed he'll support Trump 'no matter what': Adm. Mike Mullen
How did we get here? To a point where we are depending on retired generals for the stability of our system? And what happens if that bu bullwark breaks. I have been in two many countries where the generals gave great comfort to their citizens. That is not the United States of America. That is former joint chiefs chair admiral Mike mullen. He joins us now. Good morning. Good morning, Martha. What do you mean by that? What are your concerns? I have spoken to people across the country since president trump took office that three generals. Kelly, Mcmaster, Mattis, all serve this president in what has been a pretty chaotic first year. They're dependent on those three individuals for stability. Calmness. Reasoned views for the future. And, the worry that I have is they're also really, for the first time in their lives, inside the white house and inside the political environment. Which, I certainly grew to understand over four years as chairman. It's a very difficult environment. It's a foreign environment. To all of them and so they're trying to get their job done while operating in a political environment that they're adjusting to. I have concerned with respect to how that outcome, how good outcomes come out of it. And this civilian military tied with. I know, few people realize this that general Mcmaster is still active duty. You to think he should be supporting policy publicly? Think the role of a national security adviser is to present options. Almost be neutral in that regard. I think general Mcmaster got out a little early on policy. In recent weeks and months, he's been much more subdued in that regard. His main regajob is to tee up options for the national security apparatus and the president to make decisions. John Kelly is retired. He seems to be all-in, supporting policy. Does that bother you? Think that's true. What happened very sadly a few weeks ago when he was in a position to both defend the president in terms of what happened with the gold star family and --? Niger? Then John ends up politicizing the death of his own son in the wars. It's indicative of the fact that he clearly is very support I have of the president, no matter what. And that, that was really a sad moment for me. And, of course, Mike Flynn. Also, retired general. And didn't last very long. Is the Mike Flynn you're seeing now under investigation the same Mike Flynn you knew as an intelligence officer? Impblt don't know the Mike Flynn I have seen since he made Dae six to endorse very strongly and publicly president trump. I was very concerned about him speaking at the Republican convention, as I was with John Allen speaking at the democratic convention. I think it sends the wrong message on the American people. In terms of politicizing the military. And undermining the institutions they care so much about. They shouldn't be in the white house right now? Is that not a good move for them? They're great Americans. For the country? They're great Americans. Great citizens. I know each of them are serving trying to do the best for their country. When the president asks you to serve, the response is the vast majority of times, you do that. From that standpoint, I'm strongly for them. I do worry, though, that, one they have limits, based on their backgrounds. They'll be learning. And two, from the standpoint of what it represents in terms of the civilian control of the the military and the possible plitization of the military is concerning. It damages the military itself? My view, assuming you're not pitched in as a politician is that we never take the uniform off. It's very difficult to move away from our background and who we are in that regard. It's made much more difficult. That doesn't mean generals and admirals can't serve. They certainly have in the past. But it's particularly difficult right now because of the politicings of the time. There's nothing that seemingly is not able to be politicized in the current environment. I want to talk about something else. The president has done in terms of the rules of engagement and terms of conflicts around the world. He has given the authority to commanders on the the ground that didn't exist before. Do you think this has made a difference in the fight? Or are there risk there is there? I think most commanders on the ground would support that delegati delegation. You have to be careful with it. The interaction between those on the ground and certainly our leaders in our country has to be almost continuous. It's different from the previous administration in that regard. I think it's too soon to tell how much difference it's going to make. We had you on the show about one year ago to the day, you said at the time that north Korea, more likely than any place else in the world, could potentially create an explosive outcome. Somewhat your assessment of how president trump has handled that since? I still worry about the peninsula and the potential outcome there. There is more uncertainty than there was a year ago, in principle, because of the the rhetoric that is there. I know that the trump administration has addressed this issue from day one. They're very serious about creating options and have created options. It's still a very difficult place to know what's actually going upon think Kim Jong-un is going to -- is -- really working hard to achieve the nuclear capability. I think he'll get there short of some deterrence. Do you think it's possible we'll see the use of nuclear weapons in the future? I don't know. Think it's more probable than I use to the be. It scares me to death, quite frankly. They're the most dangerous weapons in the world. If we have someone in north kreey with a lethal legacy, is very unpredictable, and sees this as a way to solidify his future, that he could well not just attain them but potentially use them. There's been a lot of talk on the hill this week and president trump and a preemptive strike and comments saying they wouldn't follow an illegal order. Did you talk about that possibility when you were in the white house? Think any senior military officer follows from the stand in on the of, we're not going to follow a legal order. That said, the the president is in a position to use a legal order. The likelihood given that order would be carried out, is high. The sixth accident in the Navy. Do you have concerns about the Navy's red ziness. Broad, broad concerns with respect to what's happened. The sailors we have lost. I think this accident last week this is an incredibly safe airplane historically. Goes back to 1973 since the last accident. I do have a concern. About the readiness of the Navy and the red ziness of our armed forces, they're pressed very hard to do an awful lot right now. We need to stay focused. Thank you so much for joining us. Great to see you. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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