We’ve been reporting on the blockbuster story that Gen. Mark Milley had communications with the Chinese without the knowledge of the president and that, after being pressed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), he intervened to tell Pentagon officials that any military/nuclear decision had to go through him.
Milley’s spokesperson may have dug himself a bigger hole by admitting that Milley did in fact make calls to the Chinese, although he did his best to spin the nature of the calls as somehow normal. But it isn’t his job to conduct foreign policy and certainly not without the authorization of the president.
Now, the former acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, is speaking out and it’s not good for Milley.
Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who led the Pentagon from the period after the 2020 election through Inauguration Day, said that he “did not and would not ever authorize” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to have “secret” calls with his Chinese counterpart, describing the allegations as a “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination,” and calling on him to resign “immediately.”
In a statement to Fox News, Miller said that the United States Armed Forces, from its inception, has “operated under the inviolable principle of civilian control of the military.”
“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest-ranking military officer whose sole role is providing military-specific advice to the president, and by law is prohibited from exercising executive authority to command forces,” Miller said. “The chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense, not through the Chairman.”
His point, as we noted earlier, citing retired Army Colonel Douglas McGregor, is that Chairman Milley doesn’t have the power to do what he did, he doesn’t have operational command over anything — that command comes from the civilian authority, directed by the president.
Fox is claiming that the first call wasn’t “secret” — that there were 15 people on the call and that it was coordinated with the Defense Secretary at the time, Mark Esper. They claim Miller knew of the October call which Miller denies.
So neither call had the authorization of the president and that the second call was made without the knowledge even of Miller, the acting Secretary of Defense. So indeed Milley was acting “rogue.”
“If the reporting in Woodward’s book is accurate, it represents a disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination by the Nation’s top military officer,” Miller said, adding that if the story of Milley’s “histrionic outbursts and unsanctioned, anti-Constitutional involvement in foreign policy prove true, he must resign immediately or be fired by the Secretary of Defense to guarantee the sanctity of the officer corps.”
“Pursuit of partisan politics and individual self-interests are a violation of an officer’s sacred duty and have no place in the United States military,” Miller said, adding that “a lesser ranking officer accused of such behavior would immediately be relieved of duty pending a thorough and independent investigation.”
“As secretary of defense, I did not and would not ever authorize such conduct,” Miller said.
Just like McGregor, Miller said the claims about Trump were “completely unfounded” and he called for a further investigation of the allegations.
Former chief of staff for the Department of Defense Kash Patel called it literally treasonous, saying “the law governing the Joint Chiefs of Staff specifically forbids the chairman from exercising any operational command authority.”
“Congress put this in the statute because the U.S. military is to be led by a civilian, the commander-in-chief,” Patel continued. “Furthermore, by law, the national command authority goes from the president to the secretary of Defense to include anything relating troop deployments, operations in theaters of war, and nuclear command.”
Patel added that if the calls with China are true, Milley “has violated the law regarding operational authority.”
“Calling a foreign counterpart and discussing operational capabilities against that enemy is literally treasonous,” Patel said. “The White House, nor the Office of the Secretary of Defense authorized the chairman to conduct any calls with Chinese officials regarding operations.” [….]
Deputy chief of staff to the Department of Defense Joe Francescon also told Fox News that it was “the policy at the time that there was no senior government engagement with China, owing to their bad acts and efforts.”
Francescon added that it was the “blanket policy at the time not to have high-level engagement with the Chinese on matters like this,” and added that Miller and his office were “not told in advance of any call to the Chinese specifically.”
“At most, they were presented that Milley was calling foreign allies and partners to reassure them,” he said.
Milley’s spokesperson’s statement not only dug him a hole on this subject of speaking to the Chinese on this matter, but he also revealed that Milley had regular conversations with Chinese and Russians.
Fox News has learned that Milley had up to 20 phone calls with Li and NATO allies in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot in an effort to reassure them that the U.S. government was stable, and to reassure China that the U.S. did not plan a surprise attack – all in an effort to lower tensions with China during the interim period between the election and inauguration, and to project stability so that adversaries of the U.S. did not take advantage of the domestic turmoil during that period.
If that’s true, then again, this is completely wrong and requires even more investigation, because it isn’t within his authority to conduct foreign policy outside the purview of the president.
The greater problem? He may still be operating this way. Joe Biden has not only not called out these actions, but he’s thrown his support behind Milley, saying he has confidence in him.