Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested this week that Gen. Mark Milley may have lied under oath to Congress about who had knowledge of his controversial phone calls with China’s top general in the final weeks of then-President Donald Trump’s term. A recently published book, “Peril” by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, claimed Milley had assured his Chinese counterparts that he would provide forewarning if Trump sought to launch an attack.
Pompeo rejected the chairman’s claim that he was informed about the calls, telling SiriusXM’s The Megyn Kelly Show on Wednesday that he has “no recollection of Gen. Milley briefing me in the way he described.”
“If he said, ‘Hey, I spoke with my Chinese counterparts yesterday,’ that wouldn’t have been something particularly memorable. It would have been relatively ordinary. I spoke with my Chinese counterparts from time to time, as well. Every senior leader in America would do that. But it’s the substance, Megyn,” Pompeo said. “If he in fact said ‘we will not attack you until we warn you,’ that’s just nutty. It’s certain that he did not tell Chief Meadows or I that…if I had heard it, I would have gone high and right.”
Pompeo added that what Milley testified and what Milley actually told him “aren’t remotely the same.”
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Milley defended his communication with China, saying it was consistent with his leadership responsibilities. He also claimed eight other people were involved in the first call on October 30, and 11 were on the second call on January 8.
In an interview with Fox & Friends earlier this month, Pompeo said he is “always skeptical about Bob Woodward,” who helped write the controversial book.
“We will begin there. But if he did that. If General Milley called and told the Chinese Communist Party I promise you I will give you a holler before we attack, this is something that is deeply inconsistent with his responsibility,” Pompeo said. “He is not even in the chain of command, it would have been a tragic, horrible thing to do.”
John Ratcliffe, then the director of national intelligence, also subsequently denied involvement in the phone calls.
“There was no concerning intelligence that merited a call to his Chinese counterpart,” Ratcliffe told Fox News. He called Milley’s testimony “disingenuous and disappointing.”
“The reason that you know that I’m telling the truth when I saw that this was not an issue of concern is Gen. Milley was the principal military adviser to President Trump,” he continued. “The number of conversations that he had with President Trump about that issue was zero. I was the president’s principal intelligence adviser. The number of conversations I had about that intelligence with President Trump was zero.”
During Milley’s testimony this week, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff on Tuesday why he did not resign over President Joe Biden’s decision to not keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond August 31, to facilitate continued civilian evacuations from the country.
“I’m shocked to learn that your advice about staying in Afghanistan was rejected,” said Cotton, who is himself a former Army infantry officer. “I’m shocked to learn that your advice wasn’t sought until August 25th on staying past the August 31 deadline. I understand that you’re the principal military advisor, that you advise – you don’t decide, the president decides. But if all this is true Gen. Milley, why haven’t you resigned?”
Milley responded that “resigning is a very serious thing.”