Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley launched a broadside at Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley over the latter’s alleged conversations with his Chinese counterpart ahead of last year’s election and afterward over reported concerns about the stability of then-President Donald Trump.
In an interview with Fox News Thursday, Haley responded to those reports and concerns by first noting that it is “not uncommon” for Chinese and Russian military and civilian leaders to talk with U.S. officials during times of perceived crisis.
But, she said it appears as though for now, there are “more questions than answers,” one of them being, “exactly what did [Milley] say?”
“Did he say I would give you a heads up if something was happening?” Haley said, speaking on “America’s Newsroom.”
(Source: Fox News)
Earlier this week, published excerpts from an upcoming book, “Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, suggested that Milley went behind Trump’s back, as well as the Defense Department’s civilian leaders, to discuss the political situation in the United States, at one point allegedly telling his Chinese equal he would inform him if Trump were planning to launch an attack.
“What I typically did was, I would say, well, this is what the U.S. expects of you, and if you don’t want any trouble this is what you should do,” Haley continued. “I would immediately give that write out to the interagency” responsible for such relations “and then I’d pick up the phone and calling the president and say, ‘I just talked to the Chinese, this is what they are thinking, this is what I said, Is there anything further you want me to do?”
Haley said contacting the president is the most important aspect of that chain of events, adding that there were many members of Trump’s inner circle who thought they knew better than he did, which “is a very dangerous thing.”
“There is only one president at a time. And for you to go and have a call with the Chinese, there’s nothing wrong with that. For you not to tell the president that you had that call with the Chinese and for him not to be aware, that’s the problem,” the former Republican governor of South Carolina added.”
“It’s because you want him to be all informed on at his best to proceed,” she said. “You don’t have the back of the Chinese, you have the back of your president, that’s the part that has all the questions.”
Co-host Dana Perino noted that, according to the book, which she says she is taking “with a grain of salt,” Milley was supposedly acting on the instructions of then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper before asking if Milley’s actions were appropriate given that information.
If so, that doesn’t change the fact that Milley and Esper should have discussed the interaction with the Chinese military leader, Haley said.
“The whole part is, to not have communication with the president, to not discuss with him what you are doing, is a real issue, especially if the Chinese think that you’re about to go to war with them,” Haley added. “That’s no small issue.”
Haley went on to say that if reports about what Milley did to Trump are accurate, he’ll do it to Biden or another president as well.
For his part, Milley has defended his calls to China as being “perfectly” within his role as Joint Chiefs chairman.
In remarks to reporters traveling with him to Europe Thursday, Milley said that such calls are “routine” and were done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”
In refusing to provide more specifics, Milley referred to an upcoming hearing in Congress on Sept. 28 where he is expected to provide testimony.
“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”
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