The ex-commander in chief called into Newsmax on Tuesday to respond to a new book that claimed Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pledged to give his Chinese counterpart advance notice if Trump were to order a strike against China.
"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," he told Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith.
Milley was concerned Trump might order a strike that would lead to war with China, attempting to avert armed conflict to Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army in a pair of secret calls before and after the 2020 election, according to excerpts from Peril, written by Watergate sleuth Bob Woodward and fellow Washington Post journalist Robert Costa.
“General Li, you and I have known each other for five years now. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley said to Li in one of the conversations described in the book.
Treason against the United States, as outlined in the Constitution , "shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."
Anyone found guilty of treason "shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States," by U.S. code .
At least one Republican in Congress, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, insisted Milley should be court martialed if the reporting is true. Others have called for his firing or called on him to resign. Retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the Ukraine-focused impeachment proceedings against Trump, said if the book is correct, Milley "usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, ... violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military," and should step down .
In his interview with Newsmax, Trump admitted he was frustrated with China on trade and the coronavirus but said it was a "ridiculous" claim he considered an attack on China, denying ever thinking about such an operation.
Trump also revealed he considers Woodward and "his cohorts" to be "extremely dishonorable people."
Milley remains chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Biden administration. As of press time, The Pentagon did not comment on the book.