Top Republicans began calling for the scalp of the nation’s top military officer Tuesday over reports that he circumvented then-President Trump by reassuring China about the U.S. president and his ability to undermine him.
Mr. Trump issued a statement Tuesday evening saying that Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may have committed treason if, as reported, he told his Chinese counterpart that the U.S. wasn’t planning a surprise attack and, if it were, the general himself would sabotage the assault.
“If the story of “Dumbass” General Mark Milley … is true, then I assume he would be tried for TREASON in that he would have been dealing with his Chinese counterpart behind the President’s back and telling China that he would be giving them notification ‘of an attack.’ Can’t do that!” Mr. Trump said.
The top Republican on the Senate intelligence committee didn’t go so far as the T-word.
But Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, did say that if the accounts in “Peril,” a new book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post, are true, Gen. Milley should resign.
“Such subversion undermines the president’s ability to negotiate and leverage one of this nation’s instruments of national power in his interactions with foreign nations,” Mr. Rubio wrote Tuesday in a letter to President Biden.
“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,” said Mr. Rubio, who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Gen. Milley himself had no comment Tuesday.
In “Peril,” Mr. Woodward and Mr. Costa report that the general went around a president he considered erratic to reassure Chinese officials, specifically, twice telephoning Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army in days around Election Day and the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be OK,” Gen. Milley reportedly told Gen. Li in November. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
The book said Gen. Milley touted his rapport with Gen. Li and said he would warn him of a strike against China.
“General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re ever going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” the book reportedly states.
Mr. Trump, despite his attacks on Gun. Milley, pooh-poohed the book anyway.
“The good news is that the story is Fake News concocted by a weak and ineffective General together with two authors who I refused to give an interview to because they write fiction, not fact,” he said, going on to deride Gen. Milley over the Middle East.
“For the record,” Mr. Trump added, “I never even thought of attacking China — and China knows that. The people that fabricated the story are sick and demented, and the people who print it are just as bad.”
• Mike Glenn contributed to this report.
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