Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) on Wednesday demanded that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley turn over all intelligence he had showing that China had believed in the days leading up to the 2020 election that the United States was planning to attack it.
According to a recently published book, Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, that alleged intelligence had prompted the general to call his Chinese counterpart and assure him there were no such plans and if there were, he would let him know beforehand.
Milley had allegedly called Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng and said, “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. It’s not going to be a bolt out of the blue.”
Turner during a House Armed Services Committee hearing scolded Milley for not informing the White House of the intelligence and taking matters into his own hands to call Li.
Turner, also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said to Milley:
Now, you claim that you had information, and it’s all over that China was worried about an imminent attack. You did not tell the president, the vice president, the White House chief of staff, the national security adviser, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, the director of national intelligence, either of the relevant committees in the House, including the big eight, which you know include Intel.
You didn’t tell the Intelligence Committee. You didn’t tell the Armed Services Committee. You report that after you took it upon yourself to have this phone conversation, that you told them of the conversation heard not that China believed that we were going to imminently attack them, which by the way, has never been true in my lifetime.
But you chose instead to handle it yourself with a phone call. So, General Milley, you offered all of the concerning intelligence, and I’m going to request that you provide it to us. I would like you to provide us the relevant intelligence information that you based your belief that China was going to — the belief that there was an imminent attack.
I also want your request for declassification of the approval that you release that information that China believed so, including your request for declassification of your conversation that you had with General Li and any approvals. I want a transcript of your call with General Li, and I also want any readouts, memorandums, notice of calls, or outcomes.
Turner also blasted Milley for revealing the phone call to Woodward instead of Congress.
“Now, you chose to talk to reporters instead of us, and that’s it’s of great concern. No one in Congress knew that one of two of the major nuclear powers thought that they were, perhaps, being threatened for attack,” he said.
Milley offered to show Turner the intelligence and said it was in the presidential daily brief and disseminated to the entire national security apparatus.
He said it was “so concerning” that then Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Navy Adm Davidson, himself, and others had conversations about it. He also said Esper had instructed him to make the call to Li on October 30.