Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, committed “treason” if, as a new book reported, he secretly contacted China to head off a conflict while Trump was in office.
Trump spoke on Tuesday on Newsmax, a conservative network. He was asked by veteran reporters Bob Woodward, and Robert Costa about excerpts from his new book “Peril.”
According to the authors, Milley was so worried about Trump’s behavior following the 2020 election that he secretly called a top Chinese general in an effort to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Milley called Gen. Li Zuocheng twice. The book stated that Milley called them both again just before the November election. Milley was trying to assure his counterpart that the US is stable and was not planning to attack, as China suspected.
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“If it is actually true, which is hard to believe that he would have called China and done these things and was willing to advise them of an attack or in advance of an attack, that’s treason,” Trump said Tuesday.
As excerpts from the book emerged Tuesday describing actions attributed to Milley, The Daily Beast reported that the former president was telling allies to go on TV and demand that Milley be “arrested” for “treason.”
In the Newsmax interview, Trump claimed the opposite and said other people had been incessantly calling him to accuse Milley of treason.
Later, Trump’s allies, including Tucker Carlson Fox News host, made the accusation on TV, and social media.
These extracts are from the book and the latest evidence that Trump, the highest-ranking US military officer, took extraordinary actions to reverse his 2020 election loss. They also stirred false claims of election fraud which inspired supporters to attack Capitol Hill on January 6.
According to the authors, Milley believed that Trump had entered “serious mental decay” after the Capitol attack.
They claimed that Trump’s actions included convening top Pentagon officials to prevent him from launching a nuclear attack.
The US presidents are authorized to launch nuclear strikes at will. However, experts have suggested there are ways to resist an order that the military considers to be dangerous or incorrect .
Experts are arguing about whether Milley’s actions are legal.
Stephen Schwartz is a nuclear analyst who argued that such actions might be considered “extralegal” since the chairman of Joint Chiefs serves as an advisory role and has no authority to override any presidential order.
Bradley P. Moss is a national security lawyer. He stated that Milley was not trying to override the presidential orders, but rather asserting his position in the decision-making process.
Extracts published on CNN show that Woodward and Costa admitted that Milley might have been overstepping his authority.
They claimed that he saw the actions as a good-faith effort to ensure that there was “no historic rupture in international order, no accidental warfare with China or other countries, and no use nuclear weapons.”