The country’s senior-most military officer did not sideline his civilian leaders when he called on his Chinese counterpart last October and January, his office said on Wednesday, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, sought to limit the damage. transferred. A book alleging that he called China twice in secret over concerns that his boss at the time, President Donald J. Trump may wage war with Beijing.
General Milley’s spokesman, Colonel Dave Butler, said in a statement, “With reference to the government, “all calls from the president to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffing, coordinating and communicating with the Defense Department and interagency, National Security Bureaucracy in the context of government.
“General Mille continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of his oath to civilian control and to the Constitution,” the statement said.
General Milley’s “calls with the Chinese and others in October and January,” Colonel Butler said, “were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities assuring them of maintaining strategic stability.”
Colonel Butler did not talk about the specifics of the talks, which included assurances that Mr Trump had no plans to attack China, according to the book “Peril” by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. remained in power and the United States was not falling apart.
“Things may look untenable,” General Milley told China’s General Li Zuocheng on January 8, two days after Mr Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol to try to prevent authentication of his election loss, two such calls. in the second of. “But that’s the nature of democracy, General Lee. We are 100 percent stable. Everything is great. But democracy can be crooked sometimes.”
Yet despite those assurances, the book claims that General Milley was so concerned about Mr. Trump that he called a meeting with top commanders later that day to remind them of the procedures for launching nuclear weapons and that they Such a join was required. Decision.
The Pentagon’s press secretary, John F. Kirby said Wednesday that there was nothing wrong with it, saying it was “completely appropriate for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the president’s senior military adviser, to want to see protocol. Reviewed.” He said that “I don’t see anything in what I’ve read that should cause any concern.”
President Biden said on Wednesday he had “a lot of confidence in General Mille.”
“The president has full confidence in his leadership, his patriotism and his loyalty to our Constitution,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press briefing on Wednesday.
But some Republican leaders took to Twitter to express their anger.
“I will decline this invitation to dine with attempted coup leader and renowned critical race theorist Mark Milley,” wrote Florida Representative Matt Getz, of an invitation from the National Defense University for a dinner and reception in October. Posted a picture where General is the featured speaker. It’s unlikely the general extension that invites the personal; After Mr. Getz criticized military institutions for teaching about systemic racism, he took Mr. Gaetz to task during a congressional hearing in June.
Rather than censure for congressmen, as military leaders often do during congressional hearings, General Milley replied that he had read Mao, Marx, and Lenin and that “doesn’t make me a communist.”
Still, the last thing the Pentagon wants is that military leaders have moved around their civilian counterparts, even during the final months of the Trump presidency, when Mr. clarified, officials said, that he was not averse to using the military to help him stay in power.
Similar to other media reports and books released since Mr Trump left office, “Peril” details how his presidency inevitably collapsed in his final months in office, particularly from his election loss and the consequences. After the start of his campaign for denial. Top aides – including General Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General William P. Barr – became convinced he needed to take drastic measures to trample on American democracy or prevent international conflict, and General Milley thought Mr. According to the book, Trump had a mental refusal after the election.
A senior defense official said Mr Esper, in the weeks before Trump was unintentionally fired, also called for reassurance to foreign counterparts concerned about Mr Trump.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs Contributed reporting from Washington