Treason? Bob Woodward claims Milley offered to warn China if Trump ordered an attack

In a paywalled Washington Post article, reporter Isaac Stanley Becker writes of allegations in a forthcoming book titled Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley circumvented the chain of command following the January 6 incident, contracted his commander in chief's political rivals, and personally assured the head of China's military that he would give them warning if the U.S. were to attack.

In the book's account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they'd established through a backchannel. "General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we're going to attack, I'm going to call you ahead of time. It's not going to be a surprise."

Believing that China could lash out if it felt at risk from an unpredictable and vengeful American president, Milley took action. The same day, he called the admiral overseeing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia and the Pacific region, and recommended postponing the military exercises, according to the book. The admiral complied.

Milley also summoned senior officers to review the procedures for launching nuclear weapons, saying the president alone could give the order — but, crucially, that he, Milley, also had to be involved. Looking each in the eye, Milley asked the officers to affirm that they had understood, the authors write, in what he considered an "oath."

If this is true (and Woodward's record is mixed), Milley is guilty of insubordination and probably conspiracy to commit treason.  My understanding of treason is that a state of war is required for it to apply.  In this case, conspiracy to commit treason could be charged, but not the act itself.  President Trump, while cautioning that his remarks only apply if the allegations are true, is not so reluctant to use the t-word:

Many others also believe treason charges should that apply. Bonchie of RedState

The move to alert the CCP would have taken place via a secret backchannel set up by Milley and not sanctioned by the White House. For those who want to quibble with the term treason being used, here's the legal definition of the act under 18 USC Ch. 115.

§2381. Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Let's think about this. This is a top US general secretly contacting a top Chinese general pledging to notify him of any coming attack without the Commander in Chief's knowledge. In doing so, he would be betraying the American service members who would be carrying out such an attack, almost certainly leading to more casualties. Keep in mind in the event of an attack, we would then be at war with the Chinese, making them an enemy nation at that point.

But I believe that his analysis supports my view that conspiracy to commit treason is the relevant charge, and that treason would apply only to the actual warning that might have been given during a state of war once the attack was underway.


Photo credit: U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Jack Posobiec claims that there are witnesses ready to testify:

Perhaps the most curious response of all comes from LTC (ret.) Alexander Vindman, who himself went outside the chain of command to alert a "whistleblower" about a Trump phone call, resulting in the second impeachment of President Trump.

With the Department of Justice politicized and aligned with the Democrats, the odds of a prosecution of Milley are slim.  Should the Republic survive, future historians will have to grapple with the consequences of the nascent coup contemplated and celebrated by Woodward and Costa and the Washington Post, whose headline emphasizes Trump, not Milley as the threat:

Top general was so fearful Trump might spark war with China that he made secret calls to his counterpart in Beijing, new book says

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