Milly: Calls to China were “completely” within the scope of the job

ATHENS, Greece (AFP) – A senior US military officer said on Friday that The calls he made with his Chinese counterpart In the last stormy months of Donald TrumpThe presidency was “within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.

In his first public comments on the talks, General Mark Milley said such calls were “routine” and were made “to reassure allies and adversaries in this situation in order to ensure strategic stability.” The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to the Associated Press and another reporter traveling with him to Europe.

Milley was in the middle of a firestorm amid reports that he had made two calls to General Li Zu Cheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the United States would not suddenly go to war with or attack China.

Descriptions of the calls made last October and January were first aired in excerpts from the upcoming book “Danger” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book says that Mielle told Lee that he would warn Lee in the event of an attack.

Milley on Friday offered only a brief defense of his calls, saying he plans to have a deeper discussion on the issue for Congress when he testifies at a hearing later in September.

“I think it is best to keep my comments on record so that I do so in front of lawmakers who have the legal responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I’ll go into whatever level of detail Congress wants to get into in a couple of weeks.”

Milley and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify on September 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in what was initially going to be a hearing on the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others from that country. .

Now, however, Milley is expected to face tough questioning over the phone calls, which came during Trump’s turbulent past months in office as he challenged the results of the 2020 election. The second call came on Jan. 8, two days after a violent mob attacked The US Capitol building in an attempt to prevent Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s victory in the White House.

A special committee of the House of Representatives is investigating the January 6 riots at the Capitol Request details about Millie’s calls. Representatives of the United States, Benny Thompson, Miss USA, and Liz Cheney, chair of the Wu Committee, also sought records related to the November elections, the transfer of power from Trump to Biden and the riots.

Milley was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by Trump in 2019 and has remained in that position in the Biden administration. As President, Milley is the Senior Military Adviser to the President and to the Secretary of Defense.

The White House and the Pentagon chief said they still had full confidence in Milley.

The new book says that Milley, fearing Trump’s actions late in his term, twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the United States would not attack China. One call was made on October 30, four days before the US election. The second call was on January 8, less than two weeks before Biden’s inauguration and two days after Trump supporters revolted at the Capitol.

Some US lawmakers said Milley overstepped his authority and called on Biden to impeach him. Trump criticized Milley as a traitor, calling him “totally crazy” and saying Milley “never told me about the calls being made with China.”

“I have great confidence in General Milley,” Biden told reporters after revealing the information in the book.

Milley’s office, in a statement issued this week, said the calls were intended to convey “reassurance” for the Chinese military and were in line with its responsibilities as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A statement from Milley’s spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, said the calls were “staffed, coordinated, and liaisoned” with the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

According to the book, obtained by the Associated Press, Milley assured his Chinese counterpart in the first call that “the US government is stable and all will be well.” He said he told me, “We will not attack you or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

“If we’re going to attack, I’ll call you early. It won’t be a surprise,” Mielle reportedly said.

Milley spoke with a number of other military leaders around the world after the January 6 riots. Among them were leaders from the United Kingdom, Russia and Pakistan. A description of those calls in January referred to “several” other counterparts with whom Millie spoke with similar messages to reassure that the US government was strong and in control.

The second call was intended to allay China’s concerns about the events of January 6th. But the book notes that Lee was not easily placated, even after Millie promised him: “We are 100% consistent. All is well. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

In response to the book, US Senator Marco Rubio urged Biden to fire Milley, saying the general was working to “undermine” the US commander in chief, Trump.

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