Lawmakers in Congress last week demanded Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley respond to reports that he defied the constitutional chain of command in the final weeks of President Donald Trump’s first term by ordering National Military Command Center officials not to take orders from anyone except him.
In the days following the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, Gen. Milley held a top-secret meeting with senior military officials to take action against then-Commander-in-Chief Trump, blocking the president from potentially launching nuclear weapons and ordering staff to ignore all orders except Milley’s, a book entitled “Peril” by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa revealed.
According to the book, Milley also engaged in two back-channel phone calls with China’s top general and promised he would warn the nation of an attack.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) said last week that Gen. Milley needs to “set the record straight,” the Washington Times reported.
“General Milley is accused of secretly seizing the president’s military powers. That is the most serious crime,” he said. “If he is innocent, he has a duty to say so.”
In a letter to Gen. Milley, Banks and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked the chairman to either confirm or deny the reports. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Rand Paul (R-KY) also signed onto the letter, Grassley said.
“If those books and all attended press coverage of those books, had contained gross misrepresentations, we would have heard about it a long time ago. He would have hammered the authors and corrected the record,” Grassley said during a speech in the upper chamber of Congress. “However, to date, not a peep from the general. His silence speaks volumes.”
The book claimed that Milley was concerned that then-President Trump could “go rogue,” so he held the secret meeting and ordered officials to take “an oath” swearing that they would not take orders from anyone except him.
“No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure,” Milley ordered, according to the book. The general then moved around the room and received verbal confirmation from each person.
During the general’s phone calls with his Chinese counterparts, Milley assured General Li that “everything is going to be okay.”
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley said. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
“General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years,” Milley added. “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Milley later said the secret calls he made to communist China were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.
Milley told The Associated Press that calls like the one to Gen. Li are “routine” and were executed “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”