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'Milley must resign': stunned reactions to report that top general secretly circumvented Trump

Milley made secret calls to top military official in Beijing, and held surreptitious Pentagon meeting asserting his own authority, according to new book.

Updated: September 14, 2021 - 6:29pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The military community erupted Tuesday in response to reports that Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held secret phone calls and meetings in a surreptitious effort to sidestep the authority of his then-commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump.

"If this is true GEN Milley must resign," tweeted Alexander Vindman, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who in 2019 was a key witness against Trump in impeachment hearings.  

Milley's actions include making secret calls to the chief military officer in Beijing, and summoning top American military officers to a clandestine gathering to demand that they only obey command orders that came through Milley, according to the authors of a forthcoming book. 

The actions are reportedly described in a forthcoming book, "Peril," by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Milley took the unprecedented actions because he was afraid Trump might launch a nuclear strike, the authors wrote. 

Vindman expressed outrage that Milley directly and independently contacted the foreign military official.

"He usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military," Vindman wrote. "It's an extremely dangerous precedent. You can't simply walk away from that."

If the account in the book is accurate, Milley should be brought up on charges, according to one Pentagon official who spoke to Just the News.

"He isn't a military dictator, and this isn't his decision to make, to unilaterally contact a foreign government," said the official, who is not authorized to speak to the press. "I would expect him to be brought up on charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."  

In addition to personally calling the communist Chinese official, Milley on Jan. 8 elicited oaths from senior officers inside the National Military Command Center inside the Pentagon, according to the book's authors. The four-star general aimed to solidify his authority over military decisions that belong to the commander in chief.

"No matter what you are told, you do the procedure," Milley said, according to the authors. "You do the process. And I'm part of that procedure." He looked each officer in the eye, and asked them to verbally agree.

The meeting took place around the time Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told Democrats that she had been assured that safeguards were in place to prevent Trump from launching a nuclear weapon.  

Trump was not on record as having said he planned to order a nuclear strike.

Milley could not immediately be reached for comment.