Pentagon dodges questions on Milley phone calls: 'I can't speak to specifics'
Gen. Jack Keane on Milley scandal: ‘Let’s use some common sense here’
Fox News contributor Gen. Jack Keane discusses General Mark Milley’s reported calls to China on ‘The Story’
The Pentagon declined to confirm or deny reports from a new book alleging that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley overstepped his power during the end of the Trump presidency.
“I can’t speak to the validity,” Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin when asked about the specific allegation that Milley secretly attempted to prevent Trump from having the ability to launch nuclear weapons, a claim published in the new book co-written by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Bob Costa. “But I see nothing in what I’ve read that would cause any concern.”
“It is completely appropriate for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the senior military adviser to both the secretary and the president to want to see those protocols reviewed on whatever frequent basis he wants to do that,” Kirby said.
Kirby also declined to answer specifics about another allegation from the book that claimed Milley secretly told the Chinese military that he would tip them off if the United States was about to launch a strike against them.
“All I’ve seen is the same reporting that you’ve seen Jen,” Kirby said. “I can’t speak to the specifics of the conversation.”
Later in the briefing, Kirby was pressed by another reporter as to why he wasn’t fully denying such a “serious allegation.”
“It’s not that I’m not denying it, I’m going to refuse to speak to specific anecdotes that are in this book, I’m in no position to do that,” Kirby explained.
Kirby declined to say whether or not the Pentagon would release a transcript of the call in a similar fashion to the transcript of a phone call with the president of Ukraine that the Trump administration released in response to public outcry.
“I’m certainly not going to sign us up to releasing transcripts of conversations that occurred before we took office,” Kirby said. “I just can’t do that.”
Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who led the Pentagon from the period after the 2020 election through Inauguration Day, said that he “did not and would not ever authorize” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to have “secret” calls with his Chinese counterpart, describing the allegations as a “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination,” and calling on him to resign “immediately.”
Former President Trump has said that while he is not sure if these reports are accurate, the alleged actions would constitute treason if proven to be true.
A reporter used the word “treason” when asking Kirby a question during Wednesday’s briefing, prompting a dismissive response and comment of “oh my goodness” from the Pentagon spokesperson.
A spokesperson for Milley defended allegations of “secret” calls with his Chinese counterpart, saying the conversations are “vital” to “reducing tensions” and “avoiding unintended consequences or conflict,” maintaining that the calls were coordinated with high-level defense officials.
“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia. These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict,” Milley spokesman Col. Dave Butler said in a statement Wednesday.
Butler said that Milley’s 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 Biden defended Milley Wednesday saying he has “great confidence” in him. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki added that Biden “has worked side by side with Chairman Milley for almost eight months as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and his “experience with him has been that he is a patriot.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report
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