The revelations in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s upcoming book Peril that General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered assurances to China that former President Donald Trump would not be permitted to start a war is facing increasing scrutiny among lawmakers and the public. On Wednesday evening, The Washington Post Editorial Board called upon the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol to look into the matter.
According to the editors, two issues surrounding Milley’s actions have emerged. The first is what was going on behind closed doors that spooked Milley so much that he felt compelled to reach out to China. The second, which is perhaps the most prescient, is whether Milley’s decision to circumvent Trump’s authority as commander in chief was constitutional.
“No doubt, Gen. Milley explored the limits of his constitutional authority. This could be quite benign if he was simply telling China’s top general, Li Zuocheng, as “Peril” reports he did on Jan. 8, ‘We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.’ Axios has separately reported that Gen. Milley’s Oct. 30, 2020, phone call to Gen. Li formed part of wider reassurances, orchestrated by his civilian boss, then-Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, the purpose of which was to counter reports the Chinese were receiving from their own intelligence service to the effect that the United States intended war,” the Board wrote.
“What could be considerably less benign is the pledge Gen. Milley reportedly made to alert Gen. Li ahead of any U.S. strike: ‘If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.’ According to Peril, this came in the Oct. 30 call — before the insurrection and, indeed, before the election. We struggle to understand what circumstances — absent clear authorization from civilian policymakers — could justify offering a foreign adversary such a pledge,” it continued.
The Board goes on to say that the best way to address the aforementioned quandaries is for Milley to testify under oath before Congress.
“The country needs the same transparency about events on — and leading up to — Jan. 6, which, as these latest revelations suggest, may have been even more dangerous than already is known,” the editors stated. “The best forum would be a bipartisan committee of Congress or credible nonpartisan commission — the very mechanisms that Republicans, including some now protesting Gen. Milley, did their best to obstruct. However, a House committee led by Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is at work. It has some new leads to follow.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.