Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday he’s “always skeptical about Bob Woodward,” but if the claims the journalist made about Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his Chinese counterpart to warn about war, that would be “something that is deeply inconsistent with his responsibility.”
“He is not even in the chain of command,” Pompeo said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends,” where he appeared for a joint interview with ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “He will have to account and explain what he said to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Milley Friday acknowledged calling his Chinese counterpart in the final stormy months of Donald Trump’s presidency but said the actions were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.
Pompeo said that he has seen Milley say things in the past few weeks that he would not have anticipated, including comments about China not being an enemy and about the teaching of critical race theory, so he hopes the general did not act inappropriately.
In their book, “Peril,” Woodward and co-author Robert Costa of The Washington Post wrote that Milley saw that the Chinese were concerned about Trump’s stability after losing the November election. While Pompeo said he “can’t say exactly what I saw or didn’t see,” the narrative that the administration was “going to do something crazy is fundamentally false.”
“That’s what the left wants, that the president was contemplating which country to use nuclear weapons against,” said Pompeo. “It didn’t happen. It’s untrue. Anybody who was calling any adversary telling them, ‘Don’t worry, everything is fine,’ was reacting to something that didn’t exist.”
He added that he felt no compunction to call his own Chinese counterparts and tell them to “relax and back off.”
“You saw what we did to push back against the Chinese Communist Party,” said Pompeo. “We were forceful and serious and I think the Chinese understood that in a way that was consistent with what we were actually doing.”
Meanwhile, Christie said he agreed with Pompeo about not trusting Woodward.
“I have read and been in a number of Bob Woodward’s books,” he said. “I can tell you he wrote stuff about me in his last book that he never called me to fact check, [that was] absolutely untrue.”
He added that he cornered Woodward, who told him that the White House had not given him permission to call.
“I said, ‘Oh, you are America’s great investigative journalist and you need perms from the White House to call me?'” recalled Christie. “I didn’t work for the White House.”
For that reason, he said he wants to give Milley the benefit of the doubt, but still, “we need to hear from him because the allegations are serious. But I want to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one because I’m not going to believe Bob Woodward over a well-decorated, good-serving general in our military until we see evidence that really shows something. A book from Bob Woodward, to me, is not evidence.”
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