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Top US general Milley doubles down on call to Chinese counterpart about ‘rogue’ POTUS Trump, says it went through proper channels
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied that calling his Chinese counterpart to warn him about “rogue” President Donald Trump was wrong, saying it went through proper Defense Department channels.
Excerpts published on Tuesday from a book about the last months of the Trump presidency said Milley had coordinated with the top Democrats, the CIA, and the NSA to monitor Trump after the January 6 Capitol riot, as well as reached out to his Chinese counterpart before and after the 2020 election, to reassure him the US wasn’t about to attack.
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“All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency,” Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for Milley, said on Wednesday.
“General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution,” Butler added.
Meanwhile, the White House said President Joe Biden considers Milley “a patriot who has fidelity in the US Constitution,” and has “complete confidence” in his leadership, according to Reuters.
According to ‘Peril,’ a book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa due to be published next week and previewed by multiple corporate news outlets on Tuesday, Milley reached out to his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, twice – first on October 30, 2020, four days before the US presidential election, and then on January 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol riot.
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Milley’s first call was due to his belief that Trump was about to attack China, Woodward and Costa wrote. “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” they say Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
He reportedly went so far as to promise Li an advance warning, based on personal rapport they’ve established over the past five years.
If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.
The second call was due to Li’s fears about the events of January 6, Woodward and Costa claim. Milley reassured him that “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”
Milley did not relay the conversation to Trump; he was instead talking to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), agreeing with her that the president was “crazy,” and instructing the CIA to “aggressively watch everything” and the NSA to “keep scanning” for any sign of domestic trouble, the book says.
He also called the admiral in charge of the US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and suggested he should postpone the planned military exercises so China wouldn’t lash out. USINDOPACOM complied, according to the Washington Post’s account of the book.
Costa and Woodward acknowledge that Milley was “overseeing the mobilization of America’s national security state without the knowledge of the American people or the rest of the world,” but said he was doing this “to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.”
Responding to the reports citing the book, Trump called Milley a “dumba**” and said if the story is true, “then I assume he would be tried for treason.”
“For the record, I never even thought of attacking China, and China knows that,” Trump added. “The people that fabricated the story are sick and demented, and the people who print it are just as bad.”
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