Sen. Cotton: Book's Claims About Gen. Milley Seem 'Somewhat Farfetched' Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wednesday, 15 September 2021 10:41 AM
Claims made in a new book that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley told China that he'd warn them about an impending attack if orders were given during the late days of the Trump presidency, and that he'd worked behind the scenes to usurp the former president's powers, seem "somewhat farfetched," Sen. Tom Cotton said Wednesday.
"This book raises some serious concerns," the Arkansas Republican told Fox News' "Fox and Friends" about "Peril," which is journalist Bob Woodward's third book about former President Donald Trump's time in office.
"Gen. Milley and [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin are going to be testifying in front of Congress in just a few days," Cotton added." We will address those concerns. We don't want to jump to conclusions yet but we will certainly vet them and see exactly what happened."
In the book, Woodward and co-author Robert Costa write that Milley took steps, including holding a secret meeting with Pentagon leaders after the Jan. 6 incidents because he "was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election."
The book claims that Milley told military officials that they were not to take orders from anyone unless he was "part of the procedure," and that he'd spoken with the Chinese military to allay fears because of the chaos in the United States after the November election.
Cotton said senators will "ensure" that Milley addresses the claims, but still, "that seems a little farfetched, the idea that an American military general is going to warn an adversary if an attack is coming when Donald Trump was never even thinking about a military attack against China."
However, Cotton said it is "fairly common for senior military leaders and cabinet members to talk to their counterparts in other countries, so the fact of the conversation is less important than the content of the conversation, and that's why we need to hear straight from the horse's mouth and that's what we are going to do in the days ahead."
The senator said he doesn't know if the conversation between Milley and his Chinese counterparts was transcribed in the United States, but said it "probably was" in China.
He also acknowledged that the book does report what's been heard in Congress over the last two days of testimony from intelligence officers and senior military officers that President Joe Biden "disregarded the military advice he received earlier this year about what would happen if he went forward with his disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan," and that should not be forgotten.
"We ought not to be distracted by that ongoing fiasco, for which there is still so much work to be done," said Cotton.
But still, it's important to hear Milley himself answer about the claims in the book, "and we will be sure that he does address them," said Cotton.
Meanwhile, it has been a matter of national principle, going back to the days of George Washington, that a civilian president has control of the military.
"No matter how much the left in America disliked President Trump, no matter how much Nancy Pelosi thought he was unfit for office, and no matter how much we disagree with Joe Biden, we have one commander-in-chief who has control of the military in conjunction with Congress' constitutional control of our military and that is a vital and cherished principle," said Cotton.
The senator also addressed the growing calls for Blinken's resignation, pointing out that what happened in Afghanistan was ultimately Biden's responsibility while Blinken was executing the president's policies.
"There are some questions I have about Tony Blinken's preparation for this evacuation, and exactly how well the state department planned or how well they didn't plan," said Cotton. "I want to get to the bottom of those and we will see what those questions prove out in the long run."