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Gen. Milley admits speaking with journalists for books about Trump

President Donald Trump shakes hands with U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley.(Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Department of Defense)
September 28, 2021

Army Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admitted on Tuesday to speaking to several reporters who authored books containing controversial allegations about President Donald Trump’s presidency.

During his Tuesday testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Milley said he had spoken to journalists including Bob Woodward, Carol Leonnig, Phil Rucker, and Michael Bender for their books, all of which contained controversial characterizations of Trump’s presidency. Milley confirmed he spoke with those journalists in response to a line of questioning from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

According to Bender’s book “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” Trump told military leaders considering responses to widespread protests and riots in the summer of 2020 to “Crack their skulls.” According to the book, Milley told Trump advisor Stephen Miller to “shut the fuck up” after Miller allegedly compared scenes from the riots to a warzone.

According to Rucker and Leonnig’s book “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” Milley compared Trump to Hitler, compared Trump’s supporters to Nazi “Brownshirts” and discussed holding a mass resignation of military leadership out of concern Trump would try to start a coup.

In Woodward’s latest book “Peril,” co-authored with Robert Costa, Milley is alleged to have assured Chinese military leaders he would provide forwarning of any U.S. attack ordered by Trump. According to the book “Peril,” Milley also had a conversation with Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in which they discussed ways to prevent Trump from ordering unlawful military actions. Pelosi reportedly told Milley that Trump is crazy and “He’s been crazy for a long time.” Milley reportedly responded to her saying, “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.”

The allegations raised in the book “Peril” have led some Republican lawmakers to call for Milley’s resignation or firing and even court-martial.

During her questioning, Blackburn asked Milley if he had been accurately represented in the three books.

“I haven’t read any of the books, so I don’t know,” Milley said. “I’ve seen press reporting of it.”

Blackburn then called upon Milley to read the books and let the committee know if he was accurately portrayed, to which Milley responded, “Absolutely, happy to do that.”

Earlier in his testimony, Milley admitted reaching out to his Chinese military counterparts on two separate phone calls, as claimed in “Peril.” Milley said that he never believed Trump was going to start a war with China and that he was instead responding to “concerning intelligence” that China suspected a U.S. attack could occur.

“I know, I am certain, that President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese and it was my directed responsibility to convey presidential orders and intent,” Milley said in his opening remarks. “My task at that time was to de-escalate. My message again was consistent: Stay calm, steady, and de-escalate. We are not going to attack you.”

Milley also claimed to have cleared both his October 30 and January 8 calls with Chinese counterparts with the office staff for then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and then-acting-Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, respectively.

Miller previously said “I did not and would not ever authorize such conduct” as described in the book “Peril.” Miller also said if the “histrionic outbursts and unsanctioned, anti-Constitutional involvement in foreign policy prove true, [Milley] must resign immediately or be fired by the Secretary of Defense to guarantee the sanctity of the officer corps.”