New York Post
WOLF IN CHIEF’S CLOTHING
Top military officer secretly promised to warn China if Trump planned attack
President Biden said Joints Chief Chairman Mark Milley still had his support despite the revelation that Milley told Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng (right) he’d warn him of any plan by President Trump.
President Biden is backing Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, despite accusations Milley committed treason during the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s administration by reassuring his Chinese counterpart that the then-commander in chief would not attack Beijing.
“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden responded to reporters on Wednesday, moments after press secretary Jen Psaki excused Milley’s conduct as acceptable in the “context of this period and . . . time in history” — given that he acted while Trump was in his last few days as president and amid the backdrop of the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.
“What I can assure you all is that [Biden] knows General Milley. He has been chairman of the Joint Chiefs for almost eight months of his presidency, they’ve worked side by side through a range of international events, and the president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism and his fidelity to our Constitution,” Psaki said when asked about the allegations against Milley in the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
The book says Milley (left) told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that Milley would warn his counterpart in the event of a US attack.
In a written statement issued minutes before Psaki’s press briefing, Milley’s spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, acknowledged the communications with the Chinese, saying the top US military officer acted within his authority as the most senior uniformed adviser to the president and to the secretary of defense.
“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,” the statement said.
“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,” Butler said. “All calls from the chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency.”
Psaki, in her defense of Milley’s actions, which have been labeled as treasonous amid calls for him to step down, said: “Since you gave me the opportunity, I just wanted to add, I think it’s important to consider some of the context, context of this period and time, of time in history that we’re discussing and is outlined in portions of this book.
“The outgoing president of the United States, during this period of time, fomented unrest, leading to an insurrection and an attack on our nation’s capital, on Jan. 6 which we’ve all, you all have covered extensively, of course, one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” Psaki charged of Trump.
But Christopher Miller, who was acting secretary of defense at the end of the Trump administration, told Fox News that he “did not and would not ever authorize” Milley to have “secret” calls with Li, and described the actions as a “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination.” He called on Milley to resign “immediately.” In a statement to Fox News, Miller said US armed forces since the beginning have “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.”
Kash Patel, the former chief of staff for the Defense Department, said Milley violated laws governing the chairman’s ability to exercise “any operational authority.”
“Congress put this in the statute because the US military is to be led by a civilian, the commander in chief,” Patel told Fox News.
“Calling a foreign counterpart and discussing operational capabilities against that enemy is literally treasonous,” he added. “Neither the White House, nor the Office of the Secretary of Defense authorized the chairman to conduct any calls with Chinese officials regarding operations.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was pressed on the matter at his own briefing Wednesday and said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has confidence in Milley despite the chairman’s apparent end run around Trump.
“The secretary has complete and utter trust and confidence in General Milley in his role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” he said.
Asked if the chairman has an obligation to carry out the orders of a sitting president, Kirby said all “lawful” orders from the commander in chief must be obeyed, adding that doesn’t hold for “unlawful orders,” without saying what they would entail.
According to “Peril,” Milley contacted Li twice in the final months of the Trump administration — once right before the election on Oct. 30, 2020, and again on Jan. 8, two days after the riot at the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.
Milley reassured him both times that the administration would not launch attacks against China.
Milley also told Li that if Trump did order an attack against China, “I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Trump in a statement said Milley, whom he referred to as “Dumbass,” should “be tried for TREASON in that he would have been dealing with his Chinese counterpart behind the President’s back and telling China that he would be giving them notification ‘of an attack.’ Can’t do that!”
Others have joined with Trump in calling for Milley to be prosecuted.
Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) said in a tweet that the “deep state is real.”
“General Milley needs to be court-martialed for sedition,” Steube said.
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC), saying nobody elected Milley, in a post called for a probe.
“He can’t pretend otherwise. We need an investigation NOW & if true, his resignation & court-martial.
“While we’re on the topic of ‘unrest,’ Biden & Milley are directly responsible for 13 dead servicemembers & letting Afghanistan fall into chaos,” Bishop said in the posting.