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Tags: Milley | Trump | Woodward | Book | China

Milley Defends Calls to Chinese as Effort to Avoid Conflict

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 01:15 PM EDT

The top U.S. general did not place secret calls to China that went around civilian government leaders, his office said on Wednesday, a day after excerpts from a book alleged that he had secretly called his Chinese counterpart twice over concerns then-President Donald Trump could spark a war with China.

"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.

"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.

The White House said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden had complete confidence in Milley's leadership.

The excerpts of the book, which were reported by the Washington Post, said that in the calls, Milley sought to assure General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that the United States was stable and not going to attack and, if there were to be an attack, he would alert his counterpart ahead of time.

Butler said that Milley's calls with Chinese and others in October and January were "in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability."

"Peril," the book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa which they said relied on interviews with 200 sources, is due to be released next week.

On Tuesday, Trump, in a statement, cast doubt in the story, calling it "fabricated." He said if the story was true, Milley should be tried for treason.

"For the record, I never even thought of attacking China," Trump said.

In an exclusive Newsmax interview, Trump slammed the claims in Woodward and Costa's book that Milley feared Trump might go "rogue" after failing to secure the presidency and order a nuclear attack. He noted he had read recently that he was the only president in decades who "didn't start a war."

On Wednesday, calls grew among several key Trump allies for an investigation into the claims about Milley in the Woodword book.

“If true, General Milley has broken some very good laws and we ought to make sure there is accountability for that," Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a close Trump ally, said in a Newsmax interview.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., agreed with Trump that Milley's actions were "treasonous" and "reckless behavior." He urged President Joe Biden to fire the top general.

"It is a dangerous precedent that could be asserted at any point in the future by General Milley or others. It threatens to tear apart our nation’s longstanding principle of civilian control of the military," Rubio wrote in an open letter to Biden.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Wednesday that Milley needs to be interviewed and face consequences if it is confirmed that he spoke with Chinese officials about Trump in the manner described in the book.

"It should be investigated immediately, today, he should be questioned under oath, if not with a polygraph test, on whether it happened," Paul said Wednesday. "If it happened, he should be immediately relieved of his duties and court-martialed. You have to find out if it’s true. This is innuendo and rumor and propaganda perhaps. But, if it is true he absolutely immediately needs to be removed."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the report “deeply concerning,” telling reporters at the Capitol, “I think the first step is for General Milley to answer the question as to what exactly he said.”

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

The top U.S. military officer on Wednesday defended the phone calls he made to his Chinese counterpart in the final months of Donald Trump's presidency, saying the conversations were in keeping with his duties as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.In a written statement,...
Milley, Trump, Woodward, Book, China
Wednesday, 15 September 2021 01:15 PM
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