(USA Features) Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Friday interview that some top military officers behaved in a “political” manner during then-President Donald Trump’s administration in ways that undermined his leadership and role and commander-in-chief.
Pompeo told Fox News that during his tenure with the previous administration, which began as Trump’s CIA director, he “often” saw senior military leaders behave in “ways that were political.”
“I saw too often in the Trump administration senior leaders, three and four-star generals many of whose names you wouldn’t know, acting in ways that were political,” Pompeo, a West Point graduate and former U.S. congressman, said.
“Sometimes trying to protect themselves, but often thinking they just knew more than the people who were tasked with conducting America’s diplomacy around the world from the commander-in-chief, the secretary of state, and even the confirmed secretary of defense,” he added.
Former Sec. of State Mike Pompeo attacks generals during the Trump presidency for "acting in ways that were political" and "thinking they just knew more than … the commander-in-chief." pic.twitter.com/OC0oLWw7nC
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“Our military leaders need to focus on their mission, not on critical race theory,” he said, a reference to accusations earlier this year that senior military leaders including Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley have at least tacitly supported the teaching of the controversial curriculum in the military’s service academies.
Pompeo’s comments come on the heels of the publication of excerpts of a forthcoming book, “Peril,” by authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in the Washington Post that said Milley was allegedly so concerned Trump would launch a war with China that he contacted his counterpart there to assure him the U.S. would not strike his country.
The book also claims that Milley later called his counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, once again to say he would warn him if Trump was about to strike.
“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,'” the Post reported.
But, one unnamed defense official told Politico the book’s characterization of those phone calls is “grossly mischaracterized.”
“The official said the calls were not out of the ordinary, and the chairman was not frantically trying to reassure his counterpart,” Politico noted.
The outlet also said that Milley asked permission from then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to make the calls, though Miller has denied that and in fact has called Milley out.
Miller said in an interview with Fox News that he “did not and would not ever authorize” Milley to have “secret” calls with Li or any other top Chinese general, adding that he thinks the allegations against Milley are a “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination.”
He added that Milley ought to resign “immediately.”
“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the highest-ranking military officer whose sole role is providing military-specific advice to the president, and by law is prohibited from exercising executive authority to command forces,” Miller said.
“The chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense, not through the Chairman.”