Milley, Army chief displayed 'pattern of behavior' defying authority: former senior military official

E. Casey Wardynski alleges 'stunning' instances of Milley, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville exceeding authority

EXCLUSIVE: A former assistant secretary of the Army under President Trump has accused top military officials Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. James McConville of engaging in a "pattern of behavior" that overstepped their authority and undermined potential commands from Trump.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, E. Casey Wardynski, a former assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs under the Trump administration, accused high-ranking military officials Milley and McConville of making statements that insinuated they were calling the shots.

"These kind of behaviors and this willingness for military leaders to exceed their authorities and ignore authorities of the civilian officials appointed over them … positions under the Constitution and laws of the country was not something that came to them on Jan. 8," Wardynski said. "It was something that they had done for a while."

According to Wardynski, there were "stunning" instances in which he saw, firsthand, high-ranking military officials exceed their authority.

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"It was in and around the riots in D.C.," Wardynski said. "Gen. Milley, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – first thing to know, is he is a staff officer, he is an adviser, he's not a commander – he ordered elements of the 82nd Airborne and the 10th Mountain Division to fly overnight to D.C. to Fort Belvoir and Andrews without consulting the Army chain of command and reaching around the chain of command to do that. I know that for a fact."

New revelations in a book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa claim Milley made two phone calls to Chinese officials in fear that Trump would create conflict with the nation, telling the officials that he would forewarn about an attack planned by the U.S. on China. The book claims that Milley contacted his Chinese counterpart after he had reviewed intelligence that suggested Chinese officials believed the United States was planning an attack on China amid military exercises in the South China Sea. 

Trump has said the behavior, if true, amounted to "treason." Milley has defended the contacts with China as "routine."

Wardynski went on to detail two separate occasions when McConville told him that he "would not be obeying any illegal orders from the president" amid several violent riots across the nation in the summer of 2020, particularly in D.C.

"That's not something in 30 years of service in that uniform I thought I'd ever hear," Wardynski said. "My interpretation of that was he was talking about any use of the Insurrection Act by the president."

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The Insurrection Act of 1807 allows a president to deploy U.S. militarized forces and National Guard troops should there be extreme civil disobedience or an insurrection.

"There was a lot of talk about governors and mayors not enforcing the law," he added, providing context to the nature of ongoing events at that time. "A lot of Secret Service agents were hurt at the White House, a lot of national guardsmen were hurt at the White House, at one point it was reported that they evacuated the president to the emergency operations center, and of course Milley ordered these two units flown to D.C."

Later that year, around October of 2020, McConville told Wardynski once more that he would "not obey illegal orders from the president," prompting Wardynski to call his lawyer, the number-three attorney for the Army at the time, as the election neared, according to Wardynski.

In the phone call, Wardynski said he expressed concern over potential "unrest around the election," warning the attorney about military leaders in the Army who may "refuse to obey an order from the president if he directs the Army to implement the Insurrection Act."

Wardynski also stated that McConville, who served as Milley's deputy during his time as chief of staff of the Army, seemingly "expected the cadets to demonstrate against the president" during the 2020 West Point graduation.

"He told me that if they did, he would not be a 'prop' for the president," Wardynski said, adding that McConville's comment referred to Trump's walk to historic St. John's Church with administration members and military officials, a move Milley, who accompanied Trump, said he considers a "mistake."

Regarding Milley, Wardynski said he was a "bully" in meetings and insisted he would regularly overstep his authority to control the agenda, claiming that he and others, for some time, had no "intention of supporting" Trump.

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"My impression is, for some time, these people had no intention of supporting the president," Wardynski noted. "Milley, in staff meetings, was routinely a bully. He would sit at the head of the table with the secretary, the secretary would say we're going to do the following, and Milley would look at the gathered staff and tell them, ‘Let me tell you what the secretary just said’ and it was pretty much something different."

Wardynski also noted that Milley, who he was around multiple times for meetings, went into his portfolio on multiple occasions without prior approval.

"He reached into my portfolio at least three times without my authority and then came to me for sort of forgiveness afterwards, which he did not get," Wardynski said of Milley, whom he described as a "manipulator."

The Woodward-Costa book also detailed a phone call conversation Milley had with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following the events on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol. According to a transcript obtained by authors, Milley vowed to Pelosi that "the nuclear triggers are secure" amid Trump's exit from the White House.

According to the book, Milley "summoned senior officers to review the procedures for launching nuclear weapons, saying the president alone could give the order — but, crucially, that he, Milley, also had to be involved."

Wardynski said Milley's "business with the nuclear weapons and the nuclear command and control is part of a pattern of behavior."

"I believe it reached, at least, across the top of the Army in military leadership," Wardynski said, arguing that high-ranking officials, in his view, have only been "promoting themselves."

Based on what he has experienced firsthand with Gens. Milley and McConville, Wardynski told Fox News that he believes both should resign.

Following his confirmation by the Senate, Wardynski, who served for 30 years in the U.S. Army and is a retired colonel, was responsible for Army personnel policy and supervision of the Army’s 1.3-million-person manpower program under Trump. Wardynski left his post when President Biden was inaugurated.

Wardynski announced earlier this year that he is running for U.S. Congress to represent north Alabama. 

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"One of the major reasons I am running for Congress is due to these types of behaviors," Wardynski told Fox News. "We need to assert civilian control."

Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who led the Pentagon from the period after the 2020 election through Inauguration Day, said he "did not and would not ever authorize" Milley to have "secret" calls with his Chinese counterpart, describing the allegations as a "disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination" and calling on him to resign "immediately."

Fox News reached out to Milley and McConville for comment but did not receive a response.

Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this article.