Generals contradict Biden: We told him to leave 2,500 troops in place in Afghanistan

Joe Biden, August 19, in his interview with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.

BIDEN: No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha– that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?

BIDEN: No. Not at — not in terms of whether we were going to get out in a timeframe all troops. They didn’t argue against that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no one told — your military advisors did not tell you, “No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that”?

BIDEN: No. No one said that to me that I can recall.

Time to play another round of “Is Biden senile or just a liar?” Gen. Frank McKenzie, today, testifying before the Senate:

Note McKenzie refusing to give Biden wiggle room by allowing the possibility that the advice somehow never made its way up to him. McKenzie and Milley clearly aren’t willing to be the president’s fall guys after warning him what would happen if he followed through on his plan to pull everyone out during the Taliban’s summer offensive. In fact, it was reported more than a month ago that they, Lloyd Austin, and Gen. Scott Miller were “in lock step” in January following Biden’s inauguration in believing that somewhere between 3,000 and 4,500 U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan to support the Afghan army. Biden dismissed that recommendation, believing that the Pentagon would never condone full withdrawal despite the aimlessness of the war. He wanted out by September 11. They warned him, but did as he told them.

And now they’re going to make him take responsibility for his decision.

Republicans are too:

Congratulations to Jen Psaki, who’ll have to somehow reconcile the contradiction between the president and his top military advisors this afternoon. Senile, or just a liar?

The other headline from this morning is Milley addressing the allegations in Bob Woodward’s new book about his calls with China’s top general. He’s still testifying as I write this so there may be more to come from Q&A, but for now we have his opening statement, which confirmed key reporting from Fox News and Politico following the book’s release. Woodward and co-author Robert Costa claimed Milley had two calls with the Chinese general, one on October 30 of last year and the second on January 8 of this year, in which he assured his counterpart that the United States wasn’t planning to attack China. The bombshell quote from the book that got Milley accused of treason by some Republicans was, “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time.” Was Milley promising to tip off the Chinese secretly in the event of a U.S. strike?

He didn’t address that specific comment in his remarks but he did make some news. There were eight people with him on the video call on October 30, Milley claimed, and 11 people with him on the call on January 8, and everything was coordinated through the secretary of defense’s office. He also promised the Senate that he’ll make witnesses available to them if they need them to understand what happened during the calls. Is it possible that he promised to tip off an adversary power about an impending attack in full view of eight or more people and that that information never leaked to the media? I … guess, but it’s unlikely. Milley also says that he sent a read-out of both calls around to different agencies inside the government shortly after they happened and that he personally told Mike Pompeo and Mark Meadows about his conversations with the Chinese. He also claims to have briefed then-SecDef Chris Miller about the January 8 call. And he corroborates the reporting that all of this was done initially at the behest of Mark Esper, who got wind that the Chinese had bad intelligence alleging that the U.S. was preparing to attack and that Esper wanted Milley to join in the deconfliction efforts, assuring the Chinese that it wasn’t true.

The bottom line: Milley wasn’t operating in “secret” or conducting rogue diplomacy. His civilian superiors knew what he was doing, or so he says. The Senate can haul in Esper, Pompeo, Meadows, etc, to confirm it if they like. Hopefully someone will drill down this afternoon on Milley’s alleged promise to call the Chinese before an attack, though. He insists in the clip below that he never betrayed the country or usurped anyone’s authority.