Congressional Republicans are demanding hearings and investigations into two reported phone calls between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng.
Milley is scheduled to appear in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 28 to discuss his role in the U.S.’s chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan. Members of Congress have broad leeway to examine witnesses during committee hearings, so he is likely to face questioning about the phone calls, in which he reportedly promised that the U.S. would not attack China, and that he would warn Li if the American military prepared a strike.
The phone calls were on Oct. 30 and Jan. 8, according to an excerpt from a new book written by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley reportedly said shortly before the 2020 presidential election.
“Democracy can be sloppy sometimes,” he allegedly told Li, following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn questioned the propriety of the call.
“Making promises to the Chinese Communist Party to undermine the Commander-in-Chief is called treason,” she told the Daily Caller.
Her fellow Republican Armed Services member, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, told “Fox and Friends” that Congress “will be sure” Milley addresses the book’s claims.
“We don’t want to jump to conclusions yet but we will certainly vet them and see exactly what happened,” Cotton said, describing the allegations as “farfetched.”
“We have a principle going back to George Washington of civilian control of the military,” he added. “No matter how much the left in America disliked President Trump, no matter how much Nancy Pelosi thought he was unfit for office, and no matter how much we disagree with Joe Biden, we have one commander-in-chief who has control of the military in conjunction with Congress’ constitutional control of our military, and that is a vital and cherished principle.” (RELATED: ‘Extremely Dangerous Precedent’: Alexander Vindman Says Milley ‘Must Resign’ If He Skirted Chain Of Command)
Milley is not scheduled to appear in front of the House Armed Services Committee, but some Republican members are demanding that he testify.
Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher described the report as “one of the more serious allegations that I’ve heard regarding the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chain of command in modern history” during an appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.
“It is grounds for a thorough investigation, because the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs does not get to freelance with our adversaries and undermine a sitting commander in chief,” he said. “So at a minimum, the relevant committees in Congress need to demand the release of documents, transcripts from reported calls, and a full testimony before the House Armed Services Committee.”
“We should be having far tougher oversight on Gen. Milley,” Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz added. “Gen. Milley actually placed himself above the president of the U.S., above the Commander-in-Chief.”
Milley has denied wrongdoing through a spokesman.
“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia,” Col. Dave Butler said Wednesday. “His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.”
President Joe Biden also defended Milley, saying that he has “great confidence” in the general.