Trump angrily accuses Gen. Milley of treason after reports that he secretly contacted China, fearing Trump was about to start a war

Trump, Gen. Milley
Then-President Donald Trump with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley at the White House in October 2019. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • Trump said steps Gen. Mark Milley took to avoid conflict after January 6 constitute treason.
  • According to a new book, Milley took extraordinary actions to avoid Trump sparking war after the riot.
  • They are the latest claims on the behind-the-scenes chaos as Trump sought to subvert last year’s election.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump said that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, committed “treason” if reports of him secretly contacting China to head off a potential conflict are true.

Speaking on conservative network Newsmax on Tuesday, Trump was asked about extracts from a new book, “Peril,” by veteran reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

The authors claim that Milley was so concerned about Trump’s behaviour after losing the election that he contacted a top Chinese general to establish a secret backchannel and avoid unnecessary conflict.

It was the second call Milley had made to Gen. Li Zuocheng, with Milley having also called him just before the November election to assure him the US was stable and not planning any attacks, they said.

“If it is actually true, which is hard to believe that he would have called China and done these things and was willing to advise them of an attack or in advance of an attack… that’s treason,” said Trump.

As reports emerged on Tuesday of the actions taken by Milley, as detailed in the book, the former president was telling allies to to go on TV and demand that Milley be “arrested” for “treason,” reported The Daily Beast.

In the Newsmax interview, Trump claimed the opposite and said other people had been incessantly calling him to accuse Milley of treason.

Trump allies, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, were later making the accusation on TV and social media.

The extracts from the book are the latest revelations on the extraordinary actions taken by the top US military official as Trump sought to overturn his 2020 election defeat, stirring baseless claims of election fraud that inspired supporters to attack the Capitol on January 6.

According to the authors, Milley after the Capitol attack believed that Trump had gone into “serious mental decline.”

The authors said he then took extraordinary actions, including convening top Pentagon officials to try to avert a possible nuclear strike being launched by Trump.

US presidents have the authority to launch nuclear attacks at will, but in practice experts have argued that there are ways to oppose an order the military viewed as dangerous or wrong.

Debate has been raging among experts about the legality of Milley’s actions.

Nuclear analyst Stephen Schwartz argued that his actions were “extralegal” because the chairman of the joint chiefs serves in an advisory capacity and does not have authority to override a presidential order.

Bradley P. Moss, a national security attorney, said that Milley was not seeking to override presidential orders but merely asserting his role in the decision-making process.

Woodward and Costa say that some may believe that Milley overstepped his authority, according to extracts published by CNN.

They argued that he viewed the actions as a good faith attempt to ensure there “was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.”