Milley: Calls to China were 'perfectly' within scope of job

Gen. Mark Milley's first public comments come amid a firestorm over the calls, in which he assured a Chinese counterpart that the U.S. wasn't going to attack China in the waning days of Trump's term.

9/17/2021 3:29:00 PM

Top U.S. military officer, Gen. Milley, says that calls he made to his Chinese counterpart in the final months of Trump’s presidency were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.

Gen. Mark Milley's first public comments come amid a firestorm over the calls, in which he assured a Chinese counterpart that the U.S. wasn't going to attack China in the waning days of Trump's term.

07:23Descriptions of the calls made last October and in January were first aired in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book says Milley told Li that he would warn Li in the event of an attack.

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Milley on Friday offered only a brief defense of his calls, saying he plans a deeper discussion about the matter for Congress when he testifies at a hearing later in September.“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

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

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

A special House committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol has asked for details about Milley’s calls. U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., leaders of the committee, have also sought records related to the November election, the transfer of power from Trump to Biden and the riot.

Milley wasappointed Joint Chiefs chairmanby Trump in 2019 and has remained in that post in the Biden administration. As chairman, Milley is the top military adviser to the president and to the defense secretary.The White House and the Pentagon chief have said they continue to have full trust and confidence in Milley.

The new book says Milley, fearful of Trump’s actions late in his term, twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the U.S. was not going to attack China. One call took place on Oct. 30, four days before the American election. The second call was on Jan. 8, less than two weeks before Biden’s inauguration and two days after the riot at the Capitol by supporters of Trump.

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Some U.S. lawmakers have said Milley overstepped his authority, and they have called for Biden to fire him. Trump blasted Milley as treasonous, called him “a complete nutjob” and said Milley “never told me about calls being made to China.”Biden told reporters after the disclosures in the book that “I have great confidence in Gen. Milley.”

Milley’s office, in a statement this week, said the calls were intended to convey “reassurance” to the Chinese military and were in line with his responsibilities as Joint Chiefs chairman.The statement from Milley spokesman Col. Dave Butler also said that the calls were “staffed, coordinated and communicated” with the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

According to the book, which the AP obtained, Milley assured his Chinese counterpart in the first call that “the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay.” It said he told Li, “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

“If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley reportedly said.Milley spoke with a number of other military leaders around the world after the Jan. 6 riot; they included leaders from the United Kingdom, Russia and Pakistan. A description of those calls in January referred to “several” other counterparts that Milley spoke to with similar messages of reassurance that the U.S. government was strong and in control.

The second call was meant to placate Chinese fears about the events of Jan. 6. But the book reports that Li wasn’t as easily assuaged, even after Milley promised him: “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

Read more: NBC News »

He probably told his Chinese counterpart that the US is no longer blaming China for the COVID virus origin either. You can't act like whistleblower Edward Snowden while head of the US defense system. Do you want your enemy to fully prepared before you hit them, so they can hit you so badly and you lose 1000s of your men and women in service?


Gen. Milley calls to Chinese counterpart were 'standard operating procedure'Ambassador Michael McFaul and Anne Gearan join Andrea Mitchell to discuss the new security pact between the U.S., the UK, and Australia, and the political fallout over reports that General Mark Milley secretly spoke with his Chinese counterpart, which Ambassador McFaul calls standard operating procedure. 'There is no secret phone calls by the Chairman of the Joint Staff to anybody in the world, let alone to a Chinese counterpart. So that is much ado about nothing,' says Amb. McFaul We’ll see….

Pentagon responds to reported call between Gen. Milley and his Chinese counterpartGen. Mark Milley's spokesperson has responded to reports of a call between Milley and his Chinese counterpart. 'In addition to the acknowledgement that this phone call did occur. ... They're not denying the overall tone or tenor of the call,' Courney Kube reports. ckubeNBC I think he had no choice Trump was and is nuts ckubeNBC The military was following The Constitution - they are the patriots defending our country - and deal w their own internally. DonaldTrump put the country at risk. He wants to be a tyrant king. He needs to be arrested & put away & held accountable. He's not mentally stable. ckubeNBC There is plenty of precedent for communicating with the enemy to allay questions of imminent attack. We have done it with the Russians. Preventing Rump from launching a war was a no brainer.

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Column: Gen. Mark Milley deserves commendation in the face of Deranged Trump SyndromeColumn: Gen. Mark Milley deserves commendation in the face of Deranged Trump Syndrome (via latimesopinion) opinion thanks opinion I could read a hardcore Christian Right newsletter or the L.A. Times and know exactly where they will come out on any issue before they write a word. Reflexive partisan automatons. Could be the reason for the dismal subscription numbers. opinion Nobel Peace Prize.

Mark Milley Says Calls to Chinese General Were Within His DutiesThe Pentagon’s top military officer, Gen. Mark Milley, said he would mount a vigorous defense of two calls he placed to his Chinese counterpart in the last days of the Trump administration, describing an effort to calm Beijing’s nerves and avert a military conflict. If that is right then Snowden shouldn’t be charged.