General Milley Accused of Contacting China During the Last Months of the Trump Administration

Marjorie Smedley, Staff Writer

The Pentagon’s highest ranking military official, General Mark Milley, United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been recently exposed of contacting General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Party in China due to fears of an attack launched by former President Trump. General Milley was appointed by Trump in 2018, as Chairman. He is a four-star general, and has served in the Army for more than 40 years.

With the Trump Administration ending on Jan. 20 of this year, the public is still learning information about the last few months of the Trump Presidency. After Trump lost the Presidential Election of 2020 to Joe Biden, he refused to concede the election, instead spreading misinformation about election integrity and ballot fraud.

“In fact, dead people, and we have many examples filled out ballots, made applications, and then, voted, which is even worse. In other words, dead people went through a process. Some have been dead for 25 years,” Trump stated, in a speech on Dec. 2, nearly a month after the 2020 Presidential Election that Pres. Biden won. “Millions of votes were cast illegally in the swing states alone, and if that’s the case, the results of the individual swing states must be overturned, and overturned immediately.”

Trump made several allegations of voter fraud, especially with several accusations of deceased people casting ballots in the 2020 Elections, along with the accusation of voter fraud with the Dominion Voting Systems. This was disproved incredibly quickly, with the former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security, Christopher Krebs, calling it “nonsense”.

“There is no foreign power that is flipping votes,” said Krebs, in an interview with 60 Minutes, a few weeks after he was fired by Trump. “There’s no domestic actor flipping votes. I did it right. We did it right. This was a secure election.”

The misinformation kept up for several months, eventually culminating in the Jan. 6 riots. The Jan. 6 riots were held at the Capitol Building, and were perpetrated by Trump supporters in order to keep the certification of electoral votes from happening. The certification of electoral votes from the election was held at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, but the rioters stormed the building and caused $1.5 million in damages. Many people were injured, including 140 police officers, and five people died, including one police officer. Republicans and Democrats disagree on the damage, with many Republicans claiming that the riots done by BLM supporters created more damage and Democrats contradicting them on the matter. It was an uncertain time for the country and its allies, and it seems that Trump’s closest advisors and officials felt the same way.

“I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mick Mulvaney told CNBC in an interview, days after the Capitol Riots about his resignation from the Trump Administration. “Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in.”

Two phone calls took place, the first one on Oct. 4, 2020, nearly a month before the 2020 elections that would unseat Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Jan. 6 riots protesting the election. These revelations were discovered by the authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, in their new book “Peril.” According to the book, General Milley was fearful of Trump launching a nuclear attack on China during the last few months after the election. There had been military exercises in the South China sea and Trump’s already aggressive attitude toward China. As a result, he contacted his Chinese government counterpart Gen. Zuocheng to warn and promise that if Trump did launch an attack, he would warn ahead of time.

“If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Gen. Milley is quoted as saying in “Peril” to Gen. Zuocheng, in a phone call.

Additionally, Gen. Milley redirected the way in which a nuclear launch procedure would happen if one was ordered. As an advisor to the president, the Chairman would not have any power over whether or not a nuclear launch could happen, and could only act as a consultant. But as of the Jan. 6 riots, Gen. Milley was apprehensive of Pres. Trump launching a nuclear attack and as such directed all officials to inform and consult him if such a thing should happen. This is in contradiction with the parameters set by the government and could be seen as circumventing presidential authority. Trump has viewed it as such, calling it “treason.”

“If the reporting in Woodward’s book is accurate, it represents a disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination by the Nation’s top military officer,” Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller responds, in light of the news about his subordinate.

Democrats support Milley’s decisions about the calls to China, with Pres. Joe Biden standing by his side: however, with Gen. Milley subverting orders and the natural order of how the government works, the question remains whether he was doing the right thing or creating a precedent for future administrations. Republicans certainly think so, calling for resignation or impeachment and removal from office. But Democrats and democratically-aligned Independents believe that Milley had no choice in the matter, that this was not a time for formal procedures.

“I think he was rendering the country a significant service,” Sen. Angus King, a democratically-aligned Independent, told reporters on a conference call.

While opinions may differ, the consequences of Gen. Milley’s actions are real. With a national official resisting the natural order of command in the government, it could be used as a base example for another future administration, and unlike the Trump Administration, it could be an actual, given command that potential an official subverts or ignores, as Trump never gave an order or command for military strikes against China. While it may have helped strengthen the ties between countries and reassure other allies, the consequences of the action into the far future remain to be seen.

“It’s scary that under Trump’s administration, that nuclear attack was even a thought,” says Aiden Amaya, junior.

“It is quite concerning that there was a possibility of a nuclear attack, and I feel like warning China of said attack would reduce casualties, and be the right thing to do ” Miles Weida, sophomore, added.

As the President, Trump was officially in charge of the military, but generals and other advisors either have some control of the military or act as advisors to the President.

“The commander in chief or the president has power over the military, but lower ranking officials should report first to Gen. Milley before taking action,” Wyatt Smith, sophomore, states.

Sources:
Lubold, G. (2021, September 17). Mark Milley SAYS calls to Chinese general were within his duties. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/mark-milley-says-calls-to-chinese-general-were-within-his-duties-11631878596.
Stanley-Becker, I. (2021, September 14). Top general was so Fearful Trump might spark war that he made SECRET calls to his Chinese counterpart, new book says. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/14/peril-woodward-costa-trump-milley-china/.
Borger, J. (2021, September 18). Mark Milley, US general who stood up to Trump, founders Over Kabul strike. The Guardian. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/sep/18/mark-milley-us-general-who-stood-up-to-trump-founders-over-kabul-strike.