Posted 31 days ago
EXCLUSIVE: 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."
Miller went on to reference the allegations, which are included in the book "Peril," co-written by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, that Milley made two secret phone calls, both to his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army. The book alleges that the phone calls took place prior to the 2020 presidential election, on Oct. 30, 2020, and then two days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, on Jan. 8, 2021.
The book claims Milley contacted Li after he had reviewed intelligence that suggested Chinese officials believed the United States was planning an attack on China amid military exercises in the South China Sea. The authors of the book also claim Milley contacted Li a second time to reassure him that the U. S. would not make any type of advances or attack China in any form, as Milley promised, "We are 100% steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes."
But Fox News spoke with multiple individuals who were in the room during the two phone calls Milley had with Li. The calls, in October, were coordinated with then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s office.
"They were not secret," a U. S. official told Fox News about the calls, which took place over video teleconference.
Fox News has learned there were about 15 people present for the calls. Sources told Fox News that there were multiple notetakers present, and said the calls were both conducted with full knowledge of then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and then-acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller – something Miller denied.
"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.
Miller went on to explain that "the reason" he agreed to serve as former President Trump’s Secretary of Defense was "because of his commitment to our service members, veterans and their families and his focus on ending our involvement in overseas operations that lacked strategic coherence."
"Any accusations that President Trump was intent on starting a war with China are completely unfounded," Miller said. "President Trump absolutely believed and advocated for a more aggressive approach to China, but he was elected to end our Nation’s wars, not start new ones. I was proud to play a small role in achieving those goals."
Miller added: "I look forward to a full, non-partisan investigation of the accusations made by Woodward to guarantee that the genius of our Founders and following generations that established a system and culture of the subservience of our military – the most powerful force in our Nation – to civilian control endures."
And former chief of staff for the Department of Defense Kash Patel told Fox News that "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."
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