There’s a new twist to the reporting about the actions of Gen. Mark Milley and his alleged contacts with the Chinese that have raised so much concern.
Now Axios and Josh Rogin, who is one of the few good reporters at The Washington Post, are reporting some interesting information.
Senior Defense Official confirms to me @axios reporting on Esper's role in China calls.
"Milley was absolutely not going rogue. Esper took the initiative on this in October, Esper asked his own policy folks to backchannel the message. Milley’s message followed Esper’s."
— Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) September 15, 2021
Axios is saying that there were two calls from Milley — one on October 30 and one on Jan. 8. But there was also a communication to the Chinese initiated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, that went from lower levels to the Chinese because of Pentagon concerns in October that the Chinese were getting bad intelligence about our intentions. Esper directed his policy office to issue a backchannel message to the Chinese to reassure them the U.S. had no intention of seeking a military confrontation. That the Milley call later in October was a follow-up to those backchannel messages. The report says it is not clear that Trump was ever told or knew about these actions.
So there’s a lot to unpack there. But again, unless it’s precipitated by the president, such calls/contacts appear to be improper. The Jan. 8 call, especially, to such a high level person in China is going rogue by Milley. Milley doesn’t have the right to conduct foreign policy. It just means that we have to add Mark Esper to the people who may have acted improperly and need to answer up here. It isn’t the responsibility of the Secretary of Defense to conduct foreign policy.
But there’s also another problem here. Esper wasn’t even Secretary of Defense on Jan. 8 — he was fired in November 2020 and replaced by Christopher Miller. So whose authority was Milley operating under? It wasn’t from Trump or Esper.
It also means that if this story is true, they lose their crazy story/excuse about this being about the election and Jan. 6. Then it had nothing at all to do with that but with trying to operate around Trump, without any of that alleged “justification.”
Now, we can’t leave out that Woodward may just be adding a lot of spin into this to help sell his book.
But it’s clear that Mark Milley, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and now Mark Esper need to be questioned by Congress as to what was going on here, because if these reports are true, it surely does look like people were trying to subvert the president of the United States.