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Milley still hasn’t responded to Banks, Grassley letter with questions on ‘commitment to civilian control’

FIRST ON FOX: Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley still has not responded to an April letter from Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and his House colleague Republican Study Committee chairman Jim Banks of Indiana regarding his recent alleged statements from a 2021 book, the lawmakers say. 

Banks and Grassley sent the bicameral letter to Milley in April as a follow-up to his September 2021 congressional testimonies where the general was “questioned about controversial statements you allegedly made to the authors of several recent books.”

Milley never gave an official response to the letter, the lawmakers say. 

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“If a famous journalist falsely accused me of violating my oath to the Constitution and subverting the President, I would immediately hold a press conference to establish my innocence,” Banks told Fox News Digital on Thursday. “General Milley’s silence speaks volumes.”

“This is a serious allegation against the highest-ranking official in the U.S. armed forces, and it’s not going away with time,” he continued. “If General Milley keeps stonewalling, Senator Grassley and I will look for answers elsewhere.”
 

In the letter to Milley, the lawmakers said they were “gravely concerned” about the general’s alleged statements in Bob Woodward and Rob Costa’s book, “Peril,” chronicling the last days of the Trump administration.

“Some raise questions about your commitment to civilian control of the military, the statutory chain of command, and the command authority of the Commander-in-Chief and the President of the United States,” the Republicans wrote.

“Those issues have a bearing on guiding principles of our democracy,” they continued.

Banks and Grassley wrote that some of Milley's alleged comments "raise questions" about the general's "commitment to civilian control of the military."

Banks and Grassley included pages’ worth of questions for Milley to answer regarding his statements in the book, particularly where the general said he believed former President Trump “had gone into serious mental decline … and could go rogue and order military action or use nuclear weapons, without going through required procedures.”

The lawmakers also pointed to the book’s report that Milley had to “take any and all necessary precautions” to prevent the former president from engaging in a “rogue” military action and he “wanted to find a way to inject, if not require, that second opinion.”

“You needed to ‘pull a Schlesinger … to contain Trump and maintain the tightest possible control of … military communication and command authority,’” the background portion of the questions reads. “To execute your plan, you summoned senior operations officers from the National Military Command Center (NMCC) to your office.”

The questions come as a follow-up to Milley's September 2021 congressional testimonies.

“You made each one take an oath not to ‘act’ on the President’s orders without checking with you first,” it continued.

The lawmakers levied several questions at Milley regarding his “contemptuous words” regarding Trump in the book as well as questions on “civilian control of the military.”

“You allegedly told the authors of Peril: You “felt no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump,’” one of the questions read. “Those words do not seem to be compatible with the principle of civilian control of the military. Isn’t the commander-in-chief supposed to exercise control over the military and not vice-versa? Please explain.”

“General Milley gave several thorough responses to the lawmaker’s repeated inquires,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff communications director Colonel Dave Butler told Fox News Digital in a statement.

“General Milley addressed this issue multiple times in open, public and closed, classified sessions of Congress,” Butler continued. “The recent statements and inquiries are the same ones General Milley answered in the past.”

“This line of inquiry seems to be an attempt to politicize the military, an outcome which General Milley seeks to avoid,” he added.

Banks and Grassley both took to their respective chamber floors Thursday regarding the letter, with Banks calling “sidestepping” the commander-in-chief “a grave crime.”

“I am calling on General Milley to set the record straight,” Banks said. “General Milley is accused of secretly seizing the president’s military powers. That is the most serious crime.

“If he is innocent, he has a duty to say so,” the Indiana Republican added.

In his speech, Grassley pointed to President George Washington relinquishing his control of the military to the citizens following the Revolutionary War as well as President Harry Truman firing General Douglas MacArthur for defying orders amid the Korean War.

“Recently, several books, including ‘Peril’ by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, suggest that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, may have trampled on this principle,” Grassley said. “‘Peril’ provides an alarming account of his words and deeds.”

“When President Nixon faced a crisis over impeachment and resignation, Secretary of Defense Schlesinger feared he might order an unprovoked nuclear strike,” he continued. “So he reportedly took extralegal steps to prevent it.”

“Pulling a Milley is a very different kettle of fish. A four-star general can’t ‘pull a Schlesinger.’ Schlesinger was at the top of the chain of command, just below the President. He kept the President’s constitutional command authority firmly in civilian hands. Milley allegedly placed military hands—his hands—on controls that belong exclusively to the President.”

Grassley said that, as someone who provides oversight to the Pentagon, when he gets “a whiff of wrongdoing” he sinks his teeth in and does not let go.

“General Milley, honor your word. Answer the questions,” Grassley said. “Come clean with the American people. We are all ears.”

Someone familiar with the situation pushed back on Grassley’s speech, saying much of what the senator cited from the book was misattributed to the general.

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