Trump impeachment witness Alexander Vindman says Gen. Mark Milley 'must resign' following report that he called his Chinese counterpart to avoid war with China
- Retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman said Gen. Mark Milley "must resign" amid Woodward book details.
- Milley called his Chinese counterpart twice to reassure China that the US had no plans to attack.
- Fox reported that there were 15 people on Milley's call and its details were shared with the intel community.
A key witness who testified against then-President Donald Trump in his first impeachment called for Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to resign following bombshell allegations from a new book by The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
Insider obtained an early copy of the book, "Peril," which is set to be released next week.
Woodward and Costa wrote that in the run-up to the 2020 election and in the months after, Milley grew so concerned by Trump's erratic behavior that he called his Chinese counterpart twice to assure him that the US would not start a war with China.
The first call took place on October 30, a few days before the November 3 general election, the book said. The second call was on January 8, two days after a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol in a failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
In one call, the new book reported that Milley told his counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng: "If we're going to attack, I'm going to call you ahead of time. It's not going to be a surprise."
Such a tip-off would appear to violate the military's rules about secrecy before missions. The book also said Milley had senior officers make an "oath" to inform him of any orders to launch nuclear weapons and that they follow procedures to the letter.
Reacting to the allegations, retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman tweeted, "If this is true GEN Milley must resign. He usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military. It's an extremely dangerous precedent. You can't simply walk away from that. #dotherightthingintherightway."
-Alexander S. Vindman (@AVindman) September 14, 2021
Vindman previously served as the top Ukraine expert on Trump's National Security Council. He made headlines in 2019 when he testified to Congress about Trump's efforts to strongarm the Ukrainian government into launching politically motivated investigations against the Bidens ahead of the 2020 election. Shortly after Trump was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, he fired Vindman and his twin brother, Yevgeny, from the NSC in what Vindman's lawyer described as retaliation for his testimony.
Trump slammed Milley following the revelations in Woodward and Costa's book, and an anonymous senior Trump administration national security official told The Post's Josh Rogin that it was "dangerous for Mark Milley to be doing freelance diplomacy on China without involving any of the other senior officials dealing with China at the time."
However, Fox News' Jennifer Griffin reported that there were 15 people on Milley's video teleconference calls with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, including a State Department representative. Griffin added that notes detailing the two calls were shared with the intelligence community and went through the interagency process.
Nayyera Haq, a former senior advisor at the State Department and senior director of Cabinet affairs at the White House, also added: "The only thing secret about the discussion was the classification. It's literally how government and diplomacy are supposed to work."
China is believed to have upwards of 300 nuclear warheads and has been building missile silos capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike the US, a persistent threat that contributes to the importance of military-to-military calls so nuclear-armed adversaries limit the possibilities of a miscalculation.
Milley was one of multiple senior Trump officials who harbored deep concerns about Trump's actions during and after the election. Then-Attorney General Bill Barr grew so frustrated with the president's insistence that the election was stolen from him that he confronted Trump on November 23 and told him his claims of voter fraud were "bullshit," according to Woodward and Costa's reporting.
The book said that then-CIA Director Gina Haspel was also worried that the US was headed toward a "right-wing coup," while Milley, in the days after the Capitol siege, told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi he agreed with her assessment that Trump was "crazy."
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