Alexander Vindman, a key witness for House Democrats’ impeachment investigation against President Trump, called on Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley to resign on Tuesday, following revelations that Milley secretly called his counterpart in China to offer assurances that the U.S. would give warning in case of a nuclear assault.
“If this is true GEN Milley must resign,” Vindman wrote on Twitter. “He usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military.”
Vindman added, “It’s an extremely dangerous precedent. You can’t simply walk away from that.”
Now a retired lieutenant colonel, Vindman served as an official on the National Security Council and testified in the House impeachment probe on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Milley phoned People’s Liberation Army General Li Zuocheng twice in the last several months of the Trump administration, according to excerpts released on Tuesday from the book Peril by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The first instance reportedly occurred on October 30, 2020, when Milley became concerned by intelligence reports indicating that China believed the U.S. would launch an attack, Woodward and Costa write.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley said. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.” Milley then added, “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
The second call reportedly occurred on January 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol riot, in which a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol and forced Congressmen to flee during the certification of the Electoral College results. Milley did not report that call to Trump, Woodward and Costa write.
“We are 100 percent steady,” Milley told Li. “Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”
Milley also reportedly told senior officers that while only the president could order a nuclear missile launch, Milley had to be involved in the decision. Woodward and Costa write that Milley realized he was taking similar measures to those of former secretary of defense James Schlesinger, who in August 1974 told senior officers to inform him and the chairman of the joint chiefs if then-president Richard Nixon ordered any military actions.