Updated Sep 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Milley admits to speaking with authors of best-selling Trump books

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley admitted at a Senate hearing Tuesday that he spoke with Bob Woodward and other journalists for their recent books about the Trump presidency.

The latest: Grilled on why he felt the need to speak to reporters, Milley told Republican senators he frequently speaks to the media and does so to promote transparency with the government — though he acknowledged that he sometimes does so anonymously.

  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tore into Milley for spending time on book interviews while the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating and called on him to resign.

Why it matters: Republicans have attacked Milley over his starring role in a series of Trump books, including Woodward and Bob Costa's "Peril," Michael Bender's "Frankly, We Did Win This Election," and Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker's "I Alone Can Fix It." Milley confirmed that he spoke with the authors of all three.

  • Even some of Milley's friends have cringed at his extensive and high-profile scenes in the books and the perceptions that he participated on "deep background" with multiple authors, as Axios' Jonathan Swan reported.
  • Extensive direct quotes attributed to Milley have led Republicans to accuse him of personally leaking to authors.

Driving the news: Milley admitted to speaking with the reporters under questioning from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), but said he has not read any of the books.

  • He told Blackburn he would read them and get back to her on whether they accurately portrayed his words and actions.
  • Earlier in the hearing, which focused on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Milley defended his calls to his Chinese counterpart — first reported in the Woodward/Costa book — in which he reassured them that Trump would not launch a surprise attack against China in the last months of his presidency.
  • Milley revealed that top Trump officials, including chief of staff Mark Meadows and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had been briefed on the conversations.
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