News & Politics

Did Pelosi Attempt to Take Over the Chain of Command Before Trump Left Office?

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

General Mark Milley,  the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning and denied in his opening statement that there was anything inappropriate about his communications with the Chinese military. But according to the latest Bob Woodward book, Milley allegedly assured his counterpart in the Chinese military that the United States would not strike China and assured him that if Trump ordered an attack, he would give him a heads-up.

“General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley is alleged to have told General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army.

“I am specifically directed to communicate with the Chinese,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. “These military to military communications at the highest level are critical to the security of the United States. My loyalty to this Nation, its people, and the Constitution hasn’t changed, and will never change, as long as I have a breath to give. My loyalty is absolute, and I will not turn my back on the fallen.”

“I firmly believe in civilian control of the military,” he added, before insisting that he didn’t believe Trump had ever planned to attack China before leaving office.

Milley also addressed a call from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which she inquired about the process of a nuclear launch. According to Woodward’s book, Pelosi was concerned that Trump might launch a military strike before leaving office. “This is bad, but who knows what he might do?” Pelosi is alleged to have said. “He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time. So don’t say you don’t know what his state of mind is.”

According to the book, Milley agreed with her and promised he could stop Trump. “The one thing I can guarantee is that, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I want you to know that — I want you to know this in your heart of hearts, I can guarantee you 110 percent that the military, use of military power, whether it’s nuclear or a strike in a foreign country of any kind, we’re not going to do anything illegal or crazy,” the book claims he said.

Milley confirmed there was a call from Pelosi but characterized his end of it differently.

“Speaker of the House Pelosi called me to inquire about the president’s ability to launch nuclear weapons. I sought to assure her that nuclear launch is governed by a very specific and deliberate process. She was concerned and made various personal references characterizing [President Trump],” Milley testified. “I explained to her the president is the sole nuclear launch authority and he doesn’t launch them alone and that I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the President of the United States.”

“There are processes, protocols and procedures in place and I repeatedly assured her there was no chance of an illegal, unauthorized or accidental launch,” he continued. “By presidential directive, and Secretary of Defense directive, the chairman is part of the process to ensure the president is fully informed when determining the use of the world’s deadliest weapons. By law, I’m not in the chain of command and I know that. However, by presidential directive and DOD instruction, I am in the chain of communication to fulfill my legal, statutory role as the president’s primary military advisor.”

“At no time was I trying to change or influence the process, usurp authority or insert myself in the chain-of-command,” Milley insisted.

While Milley has denied trying to usurp Trump, his testimony, given under oath, certainly makes it sound like Nancy Pelosi tried to. She clearly sought assurances that Trump could be thwarted from launching an attack. Such a directive may not have been given directly but may very well have been implied.

Pelosi ought to testify before the Senate Armed Forces Committee.