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Douglas Andrews / September 30, 2021

Some Good Questions for Milley and Austin

While the White House did damage control, GOP House members pressed Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley for answers.

Whenever a leftist complains that he was “taken out of context,” you know you’ve got the goods on him.

Such was the case yesterday, when White House flacks tried to say Joe Biden didn’t lie when ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos challenged him last month: “Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep 2,500 troops.”

“No, they didn’t,” replied Biden. “That wasn’t true.”

It was true, though, and all three of Biden’s senior-most military advisers confirmed it Tuesday during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and again yesterday before the House Armed Services Committee. And no amount of pathetic spin from the White House can make it otherwise. But Mike Gwin, the Biden White House’s “rapid response director,” has spent much of the last two days trying to do just that. He whines that the Republicans are being “intentionally obtuse” by focusing on the clear-cut exchange above rather than the utter irrelevancy of whether keeping 2,500 additional troops in Afghanistan to better secure our withdrawal would’ve ruffled the Taliban’s turbans.

Memo to Mike: When your defense of the president’s lies rests on a complaint about your opponents being “intentionally obtuse,” it might be time to find another gig.

White House Press Secretary and paid liar Jen Psaki tried to claim that there “was a range of viewpoints,” but all of Biden’s top advisers — Central Command leader Kenneth McKenzie, Joint Chiefs Chair and Princeton graduate Mark Milley, and Afghanistan forces commander Scottie Miller — all recommended keeping around 2,500 troops. That was Donald Trump’s plan, and it was contingent on the Taliban meeting some specified conditions. Perhaps Biden and his handlers, in their reflexive need to disavow and dismantle everything Trump did, determined that keeping a residual force of 2,500 troops was therefore not an option. But that’s what Biden’s top advisers proposed. In any case, 2,500 troops is 2,500 troops, so we’re not sure the word “range” means what Jen Psaki thinks it means.

Enough about lies, though. Let’s just agree to agree that Joe Biden lied.

As for yesterday’s House testimony, GOP members did their homework, and that made for some fascinating exchanges. Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais, for example, zeroed in on Milley’s phone call with Nancy Pelosi during the waning days of the Trump administration, and how bookseller Bob Woodward portrayed them.

“You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time,” sputtered Crazy Nancy regarding Trump. To which Milley apparently replied, “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.”

DesJarlais asked: “If you’re the principal adviser to the president and she said that to you, do you think that you were doing service to a president by agreeing with the speaker that your commander-in-chief is crazy?”

After a mealy-mouthed reply from the “apolitical” Milley, DesJarlais pivoted from the general’s seeming obsession with Trump’s mental health to his lack of same for Biden, and he “told” Milley a helluva question:

Have you had any conversation with the speaker or any of our foreign leaders about our current president’s mental capacity? We have a physician right here on the panel [Texas Congressman and former Navy rear admiral Ronny Jackson] who was the personal physician to the prior three presidents who said President Biden should take a mental competency test. We see it in the press. His lack of ability to answer questions. Have you had any conversations with anybody concerning his ability to carry out a nuclear order or any other serious engagements?

Milley replied, “I’m not qualified to evaluate a president’s mental health or your mental health or anybody’s mental health.” And yet he’d done just that regarding Donald Trump.

From the other side of the aisle, Rhode Island Demo Congressman James Langevin asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin why the U.S. had failed to rescue American citizens and applicants for or holders of Special Immigrant Visas, mostly Afghans who assisted us during the 20-year war. “On the issue of why we didn’t bring out civilians and SIVs sooner,” replied Austin, “again, the call on how to do that and when to do it is really a State Department call.” Thus, Austin tried to shift some blame to Secretary of State Antony Blinken — which is probably right where it belongs.

Finally, soon-to-be former GOP Congresswoman Liz Cheney disgraced herself by apologizing for her “despicable” Republican colleagues — those who had the gall to exercise their constitutional oversight and question Milley about both his affinity for Nancy Pelosi and his efforts to undermine President Trump. “I want to apologize for those members of this committee who have done so,” she said to Milley, “and I want to thank you for standing in the breach when so many, including many in this room, failed to do so.”

As for Austin and Milley, they’re still serving at the pleasure of this president.

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