Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby took the podium Wednesday amid a flurry of accusations about what Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley did under the administration of President Donald Trump and whether his actions constitute treason.
"I certainly can't speak to the revelations that are coming out in the book" by Bob Woodward and Bob Costa, explained Kirby, directing the reporters to a previously released Pentagon statement.
But in spite of his repeated insistence he wasn't going to speak to unconfirmed reports from a book the Pentagon hasn't reviewed yet, Kirby had a lot to say about how normal, appropriate, and unconcerning Chairman Milley's alleged actions were.
"What I can tell you is that it is not uncommon at all for the Department to continue to review security protocols particularly when it comes to our strategic deterrence capabilities... to make sure that they are still relevant," said Kirby, who again claimed he was not speaking to the accusation that Milley took steps to prevent Trump from launching a nuclear strike and assured his Chinese counterpart that he would warn of any incoming American strike.
"It's also completely appropriate — and again I'm not speaking to the validity of things that are in the book — but it is completely appropriate for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff... to want to see those protocols reviewed on whatever frequent basis that he wants to do that."
As if his nervous and huffy performance before reporters wasn't enough, Kirby reiterated that "I can't speak to the validity, but I see nothing in what I've read that would cause any concern."
Pentagon Spokesman Kirby when asked about the reports that General Milley tried to stop President Trump from having the ability to launch nuclear weapons:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 15, 2021
"I see nothing in what I've read that would cause any concern." pic.twitter.com/ZzOm73JsFs
"It is not only common, it's expected that a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would continue to have counterpart conversations" with others around the world, continued Kirby. "Frequent communication with two countries like Russia and China is not atypical at all for a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs."
"Part of the value of having these communications, particularly with countries like Russia and China with which we are experiencing tension, is to try to reduce the risks of miscalculation in conflict to try to take down tensions to try to make clear what our national security interests are," Kirby claimed. "The communication channel between our chairman and a chief of defense is a really key vehicle for transmitting and communicating those kind of messages."
As Katie reported, a forthcoming book contains unconfirmed allegations that Milley contacted his Chinese counterpart to assure him that Milley would warn China of any impending American attack while simultaneously working to ensure then-President Trump didn't have the ability to launch a nuclear strike.
When a reporter pointed out that all of Kirby's non-comment comments about the serious accusations swirling around Milley fell short of an outright denial, Kirby claimed he wasn't speaking to the alleged actions.
REPORTER: "I can't really understand why you're not denying that this happened, because that's a pretty serious allegation."— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 15, 2021
KIRBY: "I'm going to refuse to speak to specific anecdotes that are in this book." pic.twitter.com/y62ec4OsIX
"I'm not speaking to it at all," he said. "It's not that I'm not denying it, I'm simply going to refuse to speak to specific anecdotes that are in this book," Kirby explained after speaking directly to the actions Milley is alleged to have taken.
The Pentagon spokesman is a creature of politics in Washington, DC.— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) September 15, 2021
We need public servants that work for the people not for the protection of politicians.
Stuttering. Useless. Not transparent. John Kirby. @PentagonPresSec
For Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin's part, Kirby said he "has full trust and confidence in Chairman Milley and the job that he's doing."