Top U.S. military commander Gen. Mark Milley was never authorized to have secret calls with his Chinese counterpart in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency over concerns Trump could spark a war, former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller told Fox News Wednesday.
Miller added that if the allegations prove true, the general must resign immediately or be ousted.
The phone calls were described in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book says Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that he would warn his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack.
In a statement to Fox News, Miller called the allegations “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination” and said the U.S. Armed Forces, from its inception, has “operated under the inviolable principle of civilian control of the military.”
“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.”
Milley, who was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2019 by Trump and kept on by Biden, does not command any troops but acts as an adviser to the president and to the secretary of defense.
The book by Woodward and Costa reported that Milley, fearful of Trump’s actions in his final weeks as president, twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the United States was not going to attack China. One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that Trump lost. The second call was on Jan. 8, 2021, less than two weeks before Biden’s inauguration and just two days after the riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Trump.
“If the reporting in Woodward’s book is accurate, it represents a disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination by the nation’s top military officer,” Miller said, adding 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.”
Trump said Milley should be tried for treason if it was true that Milley had promised Li that he would warn him in the event of a U.S. attack.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.