WASHINGTON – Gen. Mark Milley on Tuesday defended calls he made to a Chinese official at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, saying other administration officials were aware of the calls and did not intend to “usurp authority. “.
“The calls of October 30 and January 8 were coordinated before and after with the Secretary [Mark] Wait and acting secretary [Chris] Miller staff and the interagency, “Milley said during an opening statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“My task at the time was to reduce tension,” he said.
Milley said he made the calls to assure Chinese officials that there would be no attacks by the US military after intelligence officials raised concerns that the Chinese believed such an attack was possible.
“At no point did I attempt to change or influence the process, usurp authority or insert myself into the chain of command, but I am expected to give my advice and make sure the president is fully informed,” he said.
The second call, on January 8, came two days after a mob attacked the United States Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Milley said the October call was made under the direction of Esper, and the second was made at the request of the Chinese and coordinated with Miller’s office.
Additionally, he told senators that he knew Trump was not planning to attack China.
“I know, I am sure, President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese and it is my direct responsibility: to convey the presidential orders and intent,” he said.
Milley has been at the center of a firestorm Amid reports, he made two calls to General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the United States was not going to go to war with China or attack it suddenly.
During the hearing question section, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, asked Milley to confirm that she had spoken to the authors of the book “Danger” from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, where they were call descriptions. first detailed in excerpts.
“Woodward yes, Costa no,” Milley said in response to the question. When asked if it was accurately depicted, Milley told Blackburn that he had not read the book, she urged him to do so and reply, to which he replied, “happy to do that.”