WASHINGTON – The top US military official told Congress on Tuesday that he knew former President Donald Trump was not planning to attack China and that it was his job to reassure the Chinese in phone calls, prompting some lawmakers. Has expressed displeasure.
Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly defended the two calls to his Chinese counterpart, saying they were responding to a “significant degree of intelligence” that China was concerned about a US attack.
“I know, I am sure, that President Trump did not intend to attack China. … and it was my directed responsibility to convey that intention to the Chinese,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Told. “My job at the time was to de-escalate. My message was again consistent: stay calm, stay calm and de-stress. We’re not going to attack you.”
Milli has been at the center of controversy following reports that he made two calls to General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to reassure him that the United States was not going to suddenly go to war or attack China. Details of the call were first circulated in excerpts from the recently released book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
While Tuesday’s hearing largely focused on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others from the country, some senators denounced Milley as inappropriate communication with Lee.
In his most comprehensive remarks to date on the matter, Milley said the calls on October 30 and January 8 were fully coordinated with those of the then Defense Secretaries as well as other US national security agencies. And he said such military-to-military communications are vital to preventing war between great powers that possess nuclear weapons.
The calls came during Trump’s turbulent last months in office as he challenged the results of the 2020 election. The second call came two days after January 6, when a violent mob stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to prevent Congress from attesting Biden’s White House victory.
Milley said the October call was made at the direction of the then Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the second at the request of China and coordinated with the office of then Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.
Asked whether he spoke with the book’s authors and whether their comments were “accurately represented”, Milley said he spoke with Woodward and that he had not read the book, but the press reports on it. Have seen
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Ten. asked if he provided more answers after reading the book. That and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. questioned whether Milley shared private presidential conversations with the authors.
Milley said he did not leak private conversations he had with Trump, and said he regularly spoke to the media to provide information and transparency to the American people.
Milley also addressed a call received from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He added that Pelosi “called me to inquire about the president’s ability to launch nuclear weapons. I tried to reassure him that nuclear launch is controlled by a very specific and deliberate process.”
He said he assured them that while the president is the sole nuclear launch authority, “he does not launch them alone.” He said that as chairman he is part of the launch decision process.
“Procedures, protocols and procedures are in place, and I have repeatedly assured them that there is no chance of an illegal, unauthorized or accidental launch,” Milley said.
The book claimed that those met during the call agreed with Pelosi’s statement that Trump was becoming mentally weak after the election. During Tuesday’s hearing, Milley waived, saying “I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the President of the United States.”
He said that after the call was over, he had a short meeting with staff to go over the process. He also said that he had informed Miller about the call at the time.
“At no time was I attempting to alter or influence the process, usurp authority, or insert myself into a chain of command, but I hope, I will be able to offer my advice and ensure The need is for the President to be fully informed,” Milley said.
This story has been corrected to show that Chris Miller was the acting Secretary of Defense, not the Secretary.