It’s been two days since news broke that Gen. Mark Milley might have committed treason, and the chorus of Republican leaders calling for a thorough investigation into the matter is growing — with many of them also calling for his immediate resignation or termination.
These calls follow a report out Tuesday in The Washington Post about the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It contained an excerpt from the forthcoming book “Peril” by the Post’s associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Bob Costa. In it, the two alleged that Milley made a pair of secret phone calls to his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, in the final days of the Trump administration in which he gave away information about the United States’ military strategy. This included telling the foreign adversary that the United States was not preparing to strike.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley reportedly told Zuocheng on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the November election. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
According to the book’s authors, Milley even pledged to alert the Chinese in advance of an impending strike, allegedly saying, “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.”
Several months later, Milley reportedly tried to assuage Chinese concerns about American stability following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine,” Milley reportedly said during a January call. “But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”
Out of hysteria that President Donald Trump might command an attack, the general also reportedly ordered senior military officers to review nuclear weapons protocols, telling them that while Trump could give the order, Milley had to be involved in the process.
A swell of Republicans is demanding answers of Milley, with one congressman noting that a regular soldier would never get away with the type of insubordinate stunt the general pulled.
“If a regular enlisted soldier was as insubordinate as Milley, they’d face a court-martial,” Rep. Jim Banks, ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems, told The Federalist. “Milley should resign immediately. If he doesn’t, he’ll be telling our troops the higher-ups play by a different set of rules,” the Indiana Republican added.
“Today’s reporting on General Milley is deeply concerning and echoes other reports that have surfaced over the past year,” Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., the ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, told The Federalist on Tuesday. “I am astounded by his extraordinary lack of judgment and willingness to compromise our national security and risk American lives. If General Milley really did coordinate with his counterparts in the Chinese Communist Party behind the back of the commander-in-chief of the United States, he is unfit to serve and should be relieved of duty.”
His congressional colleague Rep. Rob Wittman, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, agreed, calling the account “deeply disturbing.”
“If true, these actions undermine civilian control of the military, usurp the president’s authority to decide foreign policy, and set a dangerous precedent for future presidents. This must be thoroughly investigated and the appropriate actions must be taken, as guided by the facts we uncover,” Wittman told The Federalist. “I hope to hear from the Pentagon or General Milley soon. Should he fail to promptly address these accounts of his words and actions, he should either resign or be dismissed.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, called for a “thorough investigation” during an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday because “the chairman of the Joint Chiefs does not get to freelance with our adversaries and undermine a sitting commander in chief. That simply cannot happen and cannot be allowed to stand.”
“If it’s true, it’s one of the more serious allegations that I’ve heard regarding the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chain of command in modern history,” said Gallagher, ranking members of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel. “So at a minimum, the relevant committees in Congress need to demand the release of documents, transcripts from reported calls, and a full testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, didn’t mince words on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” this week. “If these reports are accurate,” the Missouri Republican said, Milley “needs to resign, and if he won’t resign he needs to be fired.”
“I can’t underscore enough how dangerous… it is for… the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take into his own hands the conduct of American foreign policy, to undermine elected representatives,” says @HawleyMO.
“There needs to be a full congressional inquiry.” pic.twitter.com/wbMIv69rUG
— Abigail Jackson 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) September 15, 2021
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Kevin Cramer of North Dakota were hesitant to say too much about the general, both because the book might not be accurate and because Milley is already scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal on Sept. 28.
Cruz told Clay Travis and Buck Sexton on Thursday that he isn’t going to assume the quotes are correct because Woodward “has a long history of having quotes in his books, some of which are accurate and some of which are not.” If Milley did say what the book alleges, however, Cruz said it’s “deeply, deeply concerning. It would be a gross dereliction of duty. It would be breaking the chain of command. Our Constitution establishes civilian control of the military.”
Cramer concurred, telling a local radio show on Thursday that Milley will “have to face the grilling” during the Sept. 28 hearing. “If what the book says is true, it’s going to be pretty bad for Mark Milley,” added Cramer, who’s the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower.
“There is still a lot to answer for,” Sen. Joni Ernst chimed in, “and the American people, and I, expect General Milley to address this before Congress, under oath.” As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Ernst will get the chance to hear from Milley under oath next week. Sen. Tom Cotton, also a member of the committee, said Congress would “ensure” that Milley addresses the report.
These most recently vocal lawmakers join a growing chorus of other strong Republican and military leaders calling for Milley to be at least investigated, with many calling for his termination.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Tuesday called for Milley to be fired after he reportedly “contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party.”
“These actions by General Milley demonstrate a clear lack of sound judgement, and I urge you to dismiss him immediately,” Rubio wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. “He purportedly instructed officials not to take orders without his involvement and forced them to take an oath to that effect. A senior military officer interfering with that civilian-controlled process is simply unacceptable at best, and at worst, would cause ambiguity which could lead to war.”
Sen. Rick Scott, another Florida Republican who is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Thursday that if the Milley quote is accurate, he “needs to be read his rights.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said “Making promises to the Chinese Communist Party to undermine the Commander in Chief is called treason.”
Additionally, Reps. Scott Perry, Clay Higgins, Lauren Boebert, Michael Cloud, H. Morgan Griffith, Tom Tiffany, Scott DesJarlais, Andrew Clyde, Bill Posey, Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Ted Budd, Matt Rosendale, Dan Bishop, Randy Weber, Louis Gohmert, Andy Harris, Warren Davidson, Bob Good, Chip Roy, Barry Moore, Jody Hice, Ben Cline, Andy Biggs, and Mo Brooks signed a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin calling for a military probe into Milley for treason.
“We are gravely concerned with General (GEN) Mark Milley’s ability to exercise his duties and responsibilities as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” the legislators wrote. “We request a formal AR 15-6 Investigation commence immediately with regard to these allegations.”
Former President Donald Trump said that if the Milley story is true, he’s guilty of treason. Trump’s acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller noted that Gen. Mark Milley had no authority to make “secret” calls to his counterpart in communist China and needs to resign “immediately.”