Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley has addressed the reports from Bob Woodward’s upcoming book about his contacts with his Chinese communist counterpart at the end of the Trump administration. It is alleged that Milley told the Chinese leader that he would let him know in advance if the U.S. was planning any military action against them under President Trump’s command.
In new comments, Milley and his spokesperson have not denied the basic truth of the bombshell allegations. Fox News reported that Milley said on Friday that the calls he made to the Chinese military were “perfectly” part of his job’s duties and responsibilities.
In those first public comments, Milley said that such calls to adversaries are “routine” and were made to “ensure strategic stability” while reassuring allies. Milley’s comments were made directly to reporters traveling with him last week.
Milley’s spokesperson has said that the general has had many such calls and conversations with Russian military personnel and the Chinese.
His belief that such calls are routine flies in the face of the constitutional limitations against his power to make foreign policy and military operational decisions in the American chain of command. Milley was not acting with any authority from President Trump, and further that Trump had no idea of what Milley was doing.
Christopher Miller, acting Defense Secretary at Milley’s call to China on January 8, said that he did not authorize Milley’s contacts with China. Miller said that Milley should resign if the allegations are true, as they indicate a “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination.”
National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were both in office at the time and have said that they were not aware of any intelligence that would indicate that China would have any reason to think any military action by the U.S. was imminent or being considered.
John Ratcliffe was the Director of National Intelligence at the time and has said that there was no possibility that anyone authorized Milley to contact the Chinese and that Milley never disclosed those communications while Trump was in office. Ratcliffe further said that if he had known about the calls, he would have found them to be ”shocking and inappropriate and frankly unconstitutional.”
The country waits to learn if Milley will have any repercussions due to his admitted unconstitutional actions outside the chain of command. The expectation that any responsible action will come from Joe Biden is likely to be lowered even further.