On Thursday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), an Air Force veteran, took aim at his fellow Republicans who’ve demanded Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Mark Milley’s ouster over his efforts to keep then-President Trump from dragging the U.S. into war with China.
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa reportedly reveal in their new book that Milley contacted Chinese officials in October and January of last year to throw cold water on any concerns that the U.S. was planning to strike the country. Milley also talked to senior military officials in the days after the insurrection to make sure he was kept in the loop if Trump ordered any type of nuclear strike.
Trump and his allies unsurprisingly lashed out at Milley since details from the new book surfaced this week. On Tuesday night, the former president called Milley a “dumbass” who ought to be tried for “treason,” and denied expressing a desire to attack China.
Appearing on MSNBC, Kinzinger was asked whether he thinks some of his colleagues are looking to score “political points” by calling for Milley’s resignation.
Kinzinger said he thinks some of his colleagues are trying to do that, and argued that it’s a “big leap” to suddenly call for Milley’s ouster based off of reporting in the Washington Post’s reporters’ new book.
“I think some are. A lot of us are ticked off about how Afghanistan went down still. We need answers on that as well,” Kinzinger said. “I do think a leaked excerpt from a book without all sides being done, I think that’s a big leap to jump to somebody needs to resign. We need to take a deep breath, get the answers to what happened and then we can make decisions from there.”
Kinzinger’s remarks come as Trump’s foot soldiers in Congress demand Milley’s resignation and throw out similar accusations of treason. Military experts did tell TPM that questions about Milley’s actions remain important, and some suggested the move could be viewed as an erosion of civilian control of the military.
On Wednesday, President Biden said he has “great confidence” in Milley’s leadership when pressed on the general’s actions in regards to a military action or a nuclear strike in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated the President’s confidence in Milley.
“I’m not going to add more — speak to anonymous unconfirmed reports about conversations with limited context from here. But what I can assure you all of is that the President knows General Milley, he has been chairman of the Joint Chiefs for almost eight months of his presidency. They’ve worked side by side through a range of international events. And the President has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism and his fidelity to our Constitution,” Psaki told reporters Wednesday, later describing Milley as a “man of honor.”
The chairs of the Jan. 6 select committee, which Kinzinger serves on, announced on Thursday that the panel is probing the Pentagon’s reaction to Trump before and after Jan. 6 as well as Milley’s actions.
“The facts surrounding steps taken at the Pentagon to protect our security both before and after January 6th are a crucial area of focus for the Select Committee,” chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said in a statement. “Indeed, the Select Committee has sought records specifically related to these matters and we expect the Department of Defense to cooperate fully with our probe.”
Watch Kinzinger’s remarks below:
.@RepKinzinger tells @HallieJackson he thinks "some" of his Republican colleagues calling for Gen. Milley to resign are trying to score a political point, saying answers about what happened should come first. pic.twitter.com/5eaVQcfyQ0
— Hallie Jackson Reports (@HallieOnMSNBC) September 16, 2021