The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, promised China’s military leader he would warn Beijing if President Trump decided to prepare a military strike against the communist nation, according to an upcoming book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
Milley allegedly had two secret phone calls with Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, four days before the Nov. 3 election and two days after the Jan. 6 riot, according to excerpts of the book “Peril” reviewed by the Washington Post.
The Joint Chiefs chairman spoke with Li on Oct. 30 amid growing tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea and Trump’s tough rhetoric toward Beijing. A U.S. intelligence review concluding that the communist regime suspected the U.S. was preparing a military strike prompted the phone call.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be OK,” Milley allegedly told the PLA general. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
Li is the chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission, which is nominally regarded as China’s supreme military policy-making body.
Reacting to the report Tuesday, Alexander Vindman — the retired lieutenant colonel who testified against President Trump during the first impeachment — said Milley must resign.
“He usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military,” Vindman wrote on Twitter.
“It’s an extremely dangerous precedent. You can’t simply walk away from that.”
Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona also called on Milley to resign, contending that if the allegations are true, Milley “has proven, yet again, that he is unfit to serve and is treading dangerous ground.”
Milley already has been under fire from lawmakers for his handling of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which was accompanied by the nearly immediate takeover by the Taliban.
But Richard Grenell, the former acting director of national intelligence under Trump, was skeptical of the reporting in the new book.
“Bob Woodward has become the Michael Wolff of Washington, D.C.,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s hard to believe anything the two of them write.”
Grenell said Trump “isn’t a war starter, and I don’t believe Milley thought [Trump] was.
‘We are on the way to a right-wing coup’
Woodward and Costa report that Milley was disturbed by the Capitol riot and “was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.”
Milley, according to the book, feared Trump might “go rogue,” and the general told his top staffers, “You never know what a president’s trigger point is.”
Milley’s fears were shared by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was publicly asking Milley to prevent “an unhinged president from using the nuclear codes.”
Pelosi, according to the book, told Milley in a private conversation that Trump “has been crazy for a long time.”
Milley reportedly replied, “I agree with you on everything.”
Woodward and Costa also report that the general instructed NSA director Paul Nakasone and CIA Director Gina Haspel to “aggressively watch everything” happening at the White House.
The book quotes Haspel saying: “We are on the way to a right-wing coup. This whole thing is insanity.”
The CIA director also accused Trump of “acting out like a 6-year-old with a tantrum.”
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