Update (1800ET): While General Milley and The White House must be hoping that if they just keep pointing the finger at Trump's behavior, this whole treasonous affair will go away judging from angry comments from Christopher Miller - who was Donald Trump's acting Secretary of Defense at the time of the calls to China - this crisis is anything but over...
JustTheNews.com's Susan Katz Keating reports that the former Pentagon chief said he did not authorize Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to directly contact China's top military commander - contrary to Milley's claims that his conversations with Beijing were approved by defense officials.
Miller said he "as secretary of defense, did not and would not ever authorize" the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to hold "secret" conversations with the Chinese defense chief.
In a statement to Fox News, Miller said the alleged calls were a "disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination."
"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest-ranking military officer whose sole role is providing military-specific advice to the president, and by law is prohibited from exercising executive authority to command forces," Miller said.
"The chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense, not through the Chairman."
Miller added that if the story of Milley’s "histrionic outbursts and unsanctioned, anti-Constitutional involvement in foreign policy prove true, he must resign immediately or be fired by the Secretary of Defense to guarantee the sanctity of the officer corps."
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he cannot verify the claims in Woodward’s book but added he “see[s] nothing in what I’ve read that would cause any concern.”
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Update (1340ET): While many Republicans described the actions of Milley as treasonous if they indeed took place, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the president is backing Milley even if the calls did happen.
“The president believes he’s patriotic, his fidelity to our Constitution is unquestionable, and he has complete confidence in him,” Psaki said during a briefing in Washington.
Psaki claimed the context of when the calls allegedly took place was important, accusing Trump of “fomenting an insurrection,” referring to Jan. 6, and that “there was broad concern about many members of his national security team” in the wake of the U.S. Capitol breach.
“It’s the obligation of every chairman of the joint chiefs to follow constitutional order to prevent unlawful military action,” she also said.
Is anyone surprised?
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Update (1245ET): As the backlash from Woodward's expose of General Milley's apparently treasonous actions grows, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has issued a damage control statement (h/t @JoshRogin) (emphasis ours)
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia.
These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict.
His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.
All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency.
Also in keeping with his responsibilities as senior military advisor to the President and Secretary of Defense, General Milley frequently conducts meetings with uniformed leaders across the Services to ensure all leaders are aware of current issues.
The meeting regarding nuclear weapons protocols was to remind uniformed leaders in the Pentagon of the long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject.
General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution.
Quick reminder from 2015...
We need to start asking who Milley works for. https://t.co/EjnyWTUJ5A— Jesse R. Binnall ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (@jbinnall) September 15, 2021
As @JackBeTrader so correctly noted:
"if he doesn't deny the conversation as it was reported, then it's an admission."
He didn't deny it... QED.
With 4 star generals who call our enemies and promise not to follow the commander-in-chief's orders, China doesn't even need an illegitimate president compromised by bribes and blackmails.
And finally, you know it's bad when...
If this is true GEN Milley must resign. He usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military. It’s an extremely dangerous precedent. You can’t simply walk away from that. #dotherightthingintherightway https://t.co/izsMMCFPrz— Alexander S. Vindman (@AVindman) September 14, 2021
It takes a traitor to know a traitor.
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The Washington Post published a bombshell report on Tuesday that claims the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, took it upon himself to reach out to our greatest potential rival, China, and offer to give them advance warning of U.S. military action directed against them. Though far from the only violation of Milley’s oath of office revealed in the article, that is enough to warrant the president immediately relieving Milley of duty.
The Post article provided excerpts ahead of the release of the upcoming book “Peril” by Bob Woodard and Robert Costa chronicling the final act of the Trump presidency and the first six months of the Biden Administration. The most explosive revelation from the excerpt was the claim that Milley bypassed the White House and took it on his own to engage with the commanding general of the Chinese military.
According to Woodward and Costa, Milley feared China might believe Trump would order the United States to attack. Instead of voicing concerns to the President, instead recommending actions that might assuage Beijing of such fears, Milley took matters into his own hands.
He called – without the knowledge of the president or Secretary of State – the commanding general of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. According to Woodward and Costa, Milley told his counterpart,
“General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
For those who don’t like Trump thought his policy judgment was flawed, Milley could come across as a hero, as one who protected the country from an awful fate.
That would be shortsighted, however, and miss the true danger of allowing generals to take such powers upon themselves.
First, to the point itself, there is no evidence presented that Trump intended, much less took action to engage in a war with China, only that Milley was afraid he might. Thus, the Chairman took action by talking to our chief adversary for something that would never have happened.
Secondly, once a precedent has been set whereby a general or senior ranking official can get away with going rogue in defiance of a president, there is no going back – and would not be limited to one political party. Take a scenario related to the issue of Taiwan, for example.
Within the U.S. military and foreign policy establishment, there are roughly two schools of thought on the possibility that China might make good on its threat to unify the island by force. One is that Washington should actually give security guarantees to Taipei and defend them at all costs if China attacks. The other argues that fighting China over Taiwan is foolish, that the U.S. likely couldn’t win a war near China’s borders, and that in a worst-case scenario, the war could turn nuclear, killing millions of Americans. If Beijing does the unthinkable and does attack, Biden would be faced with a horrible dilemma.
Make good on the implied commitment to defend Taiwan and risk a nuclear war, or allow China to successfully take Taiwan, giving some the impression of American weakness. Whichever choice Biden made, he would be guaranteed to have fierce opponents at the highest levels of the Pentagon to his decision.
Woodward and Costa claim that Milley took action because it was “a good-faith precaution,” to ensure there was, “no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.”
If Biden chose to go to war with China over Taiwan, what is to prevent Milley – or any of the other high-ranking generals who have the same strongly-held views – from again acting on his “good faith” belief that he has to prevent war with China and actively subverts the president’s decision?
Chillingly, even that might not be the worst outcome.
The idea of a military coup in America has always been considered so improbable that few would ever take the threat seriously. But acts like these Milley has taken move us dangerously close to a place where some officers in the future might consider it. They would, no doubt, be acting in what they believe to be the best interests of the country, regarding the decisions of a civilian president as representing a danger to the nation, and seize control by removing the president from power.
We fool ourselves if we don’t think that could happen in America. If we allow this continued insubordination of our top military leaders against our duly elected civilian leaders – regardless of whether we agree or strongly oppose any given policy – to succeed, we run the risk of paralyzing our government in a moment of crisis or one day suffering a coup. To forestall that possibility, we need to stop this trend dead in its tracks now.
Milley must be relieved of duty. Today.