Claims made in the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley took action after Jan. 6 to limit then-President Donald Trump's power are all a bid to draw attention away from the Biden administration's ''incompetent'' withdrawal from Afghanistan, Trump told Newsmax.
You never heard the word China mentioned in a thing like this, Trump said Tuesday in a telephone interview on "Spicer & Co."
"You heard a lot of anger about China on trade, and we made a great trade deal. You heard a lot of anger ... with the China virus. But for them, for him to say ... that I would even think about attacking China, I think he's trying to just get out of his incompetent withdrawal out of Afghanistan."
Trump called the withdrawal "probably the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to our country" with 13 U.S. service members killed at the airport in Kabul with less than a week before the pullout.
"We left with embarrassment on our face," Trump said. "We left Americans behind. And we left $85 billion worth of the best equipment in the world that I bought, because I was the one that rebuilt our military, and then Biden gave it away."
For Milley to say Trump "was going to attack China is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, and everybody knows it," Trump said. "That is a treasonous statement."
Trump slammed the claims in Woodward and Costa's book that Milley feared Trump might go "rogue" after failing to secure the presidency and order a nuclear attack. He noted he had read recently that he was the only president in decades who "didn't start a war."
On Wednesday, calls grew among several key Trump allies for an investigation into the claims about Milley in the Woodword book.
“If true, General Milley has broken some very good laws and we ought to make sure there is accountability for that," Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a close Trump ally, said in a Newsmax interview.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., agreed with Trump that Milley's actions were "treasonous" and "reckless behavior." He urged President Joe Biden to fire the top general.
"It is a dangerous precedent that could be asserted at any point in the future by General Milley or others. It threatens to tear apart our nation’s longstanding principle of civilian control of the military," Rubio wrote in an open letter to Biden.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Wednesday that Milley needs to be interviewed and face consequences if it is confirmed that he spoke with Chinese officials about Trump in the manner described in the book.
"It should be investigated immediately, today, he should be questioned under oath, if not with a polygraph test, on whether it happened," Paul said Wednesday. "If it happened, he should be immediately relieved of his duties and court-martialed. You have to find out if it’s true. This is innuendo and rumor and propaganda perhaps. But, if it is true he absolutely immediately needs to be removed."
On Wednesday, Milley's office issued a statement defending the phone calls he made to his Chinese counterpart, saying the conversations were in keeping with his duties as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In a written statement, Gen. Mark Milley's spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, said Milley acted within his authority as the most senior uniformed adviser to the president and to the secretary of defense.
“His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability,” Butler said. “All calls from the chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency.”
Trump also said he would have handled the Afghanistan withdrawal much differently than Biden, who has been criticized by the right and left for adhering to the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline and for leaving U.S. citizens and allies behind.
"We had a good agreement. They had to meet a lot of conditions," Trump said. "They wouldn't meet them, and we bombed the hell out of them, and they'd call and they'd say, all right, we'll meet them."
Trump said that if he were still in office, the military would have stayed until all Americans and Afghan allies were out.
He also would have left no military equipment behind, he said.
"I want every bolt. I want every nail. I want every screw. I want every tank and every plane. I want all of it out," Trump said. "We're giving them aircraft, we're giving brand-new planes, hundreds of thousands of ... top-grade machine guns and rifles and goggles, night goggles. These people that did this, and that's Milley and Biden. They're incompetent people."
Trump pointed to the list of Afghans who worked with U.S. forces that the Biden administration gave to the Taliban before leaving, essentially handing them a kill list, he noted.
"Those people are in serious danger," Trump said, calling Biden's military leaders "the dumbest people."
Meanwhile, he said, Milley told ''this story about me attacking China. Think of it. I'm going to attack China. What's the reason exactly, other than that they screw us on trade. You don't attack them for that."
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