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Calls grow for Milley to come clean over calls with Chinese counterpart

Senate Republicans are demanding that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explain two calls he made to his Chinese counterpart in the final weeks of the Trump administration that are detailed in a forthcoming tell-all book.

Milley is scheduled to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 28 to discuss the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan — but GOP lawmakers want to hear from him following the revelations by Washington Post staffers Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their soon-to-be-released tome “Peril.”

According to the book, Milley contacted Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army on Oct. 30 to reassure him that the US military “are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

Milley then said, according to Woodward and Costa, that if then-President Donald Trump ordered such an attack, “I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

On Jan. 8, Woodward and Costa report, Milley reached out to Li again in the wake of the deadly riot by Trump supporters at the US Capitol two days earlier. In that conversation, Milley told Li that the US government was “100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was accused of telling Gen. Li Zuocheng of China that he’d provide a warning if the United States were to attack.
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A spokesman for the Joint Staff confirmed Wednesday that the calls took place and claimed they were “in keeping with [Milley’s] duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.”

But that explanation has not satisfied prominent Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who called for President Biden to fire Milley after reports based on excerpts of Woodward and Costa’s book circulated Tuesday — posted a video to Twitter in which he said that if the reporting was inaccurate, “General Milley should say, ‘this is a lie, it’s a fabrication.’

“I think General Milley, it’s clear now, was the source,” Rubio added. “I think he talked to them [Woodward and Costa]. I think he portrayed it that way. I think he told them, ‘This wasn’t normal. I had to do this for the good of our country’. Because he wanted to make himself look good … I imagine the Chinese left that [Oct. 30] phone call and said to themselves, ‘There’s instability in America’. Imagine if they would have decided, ‘Now is the time to invade Taiwan, because there’s political instability in the chain of command.’

“This is treacherous, it was dangerous, it’s unconstitutional, and General Milley needs to answer questions about it,” the senator concluded, “because if this is true, he should be fired. He should be fired and he should have to face military justice for what he’s done.”

Rubio’s fellow Floridian, GOP Sen. Rick Scott, tweeted Wednesday that “I don’t take this ‘reporting’ as gospel. No one should … but we need answers from Gen. Milley.

“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs actively undermining the president is unimaginable,” Scott added. “Gen. Milley needs to immediately address these accusations & testify to Congress ASAP.”

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida is also looking for answers from General Mark Milley, saying he should address the accusations immediately.
Sen. Rick Scott of Florida is also looking for answers from General Mark Milley, saying he should address the accusations immediately.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told “Fox News Primetime” Wednesday night that he was “tired of talking about what the book says Milley said.”

“I want to see the [Oct. 30 phone call] transcript and I want to hear from Milley, and I will say this as [having] been a military lawyer for 33 years,” Graham told host Lawrence Jones. “If the book is accurate and the conversation did occur as described in the book, General Milley undercut civilian control of the military and he should go.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham wants General Milley to come forward and explain "for the sake of the country."
Sen. Lindsey Graham wants General Milley to come forward and explain “for the sake of the country.”
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Graham added that “if the content was that ‘We’ve got a shaky president, I promise you we’re not going to attack, but if he does something crazy, I’ll give you a heads-up,’ that’s completely unacceptable. But I don’t want to hear from me and you about what he said. I want General Milley to come forward tomorrow and clear this up for the sake of the country.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) echoed Graham’s calls for a transcript of the October conversation between Milley and Li, telling Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that the Biden administration should release it “in an unclassified setting with as minimal number of redactions as possible.”

“This is serious,” Kennedy said. “This is more than just insubordination. As a people, we’ve decided that we want to maintain a wall between our commander-in-chief, who must be a civilian … and the military, and there’s a reason for that. Go look at Myanmar. Go look at Guinea right now.”

President Biden gave Milley his full support earlier Wednesday, telling reporters that he had “great confidence” in America’s highest-ranking military officer. However, Kennedy suggested Wednesday night that confidence may not last.

“I know President Biden has said he will stand behind, and stands behind, General Milley,” he said. “And maybe that’s true for the short term, but I’m going to give you even odds that eventually, the White House throws him under the bus, because the White House desperately needs someone besides President Biden on which to blame the stunning incompetence in Afghanistan.”

Democrats on Capitol Hill have joined the White House in standing by Milley, with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) acknowledging to reporters Tuesday that many of Durbin’s colleagues “made it clear [to Milley] that we are counting on him to avoid the disaster, which could happen at any moment.”


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