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Air Force vet Rep. Ted Lieu: Milley was right to prevent ‘rogue nuclear launch’ in secret talks with Pelosi, military staff

Congressman Ted W. Lieu. (U.S. House of Representatives photo)
September 15, 2021

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, defended Gen. Mark Milley on Twitter after reports emerged on Tuesday that Milley sought to assure his Chinese military counterparts he would forwarn them about a potential U.S. military attack.

According to excerpts of the forthcoming book “Peril” by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Milley held secret phone calls with a Chinese counterpart on Oct. 30, 2020, and Jan. 8, 2021. During one of the phone calls, Milley said, “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.”

In another reported conversation Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Milley she was concerned about President Donald Trump initiating military hostilities or even a nuclear strike in the final days of his presidency. Milley reportedly told Pelosi he shared her concerns and assured her there are “a lot of checks in the system.”

Milley also reportedly instructed members of the National Military Command Center to not carry out orders without keeping him looped in. Milley reportedly said, “No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure.”

Defending Milley’s alleged remarks, Lieu tweeted, “I previously served on active duty as a JAG. General Milley was referring to a “rogue” nuclear launch. That would be an illegal order if the former President ordered a rogue nuclear first strike without provocation. General Milley was correct in trying to prevent a rogue launch.”

It remains unclear whether any sort of military action against China was being discussed within the Trump administration during the final days of his presidency. For his part, Trump denied the story, saying, “The good news is that the story is Fake News concocted by a weak and ineffective General together with two authors who I refused to give an interview to because they write fiction, not fact.”

One Twitter user, Tom Nichols, tweeted, “The problem with the Milley revelation is that the Commander in Chief was nuts. But that doesn’t mean Milley can rewrite the nuclear chain of command (which is what he did, if the Woodward and Costa story is correct.)”

Lieu responded to Nichols’s tweet, saying, “The fate of the world should not depend on a single general, in this case Mark Milley, trying to stop a President who is unstable. That’s why we need to pass my bill with @SenMarkey that requires POTUS to get congressional authorization before launching a nuclear first strike.”

Lieu’s tweet appeared to refer to H.R. 669, known as the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2021.” The proposed legislation “prohibits the use of federal funds to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless Congress expressly authorizes such a strike pursuant to a declaration of war.”