The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Milley defends calls to Chinese at end of Trump presidency
The top U.S. military officer told Congress on Tuesday that he knew former President Donald Trump wasn’t planning to attack China and that it was his job to reassure the Chinese of this in the phone calls that have triggered outrage from some lawmakers.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered a vehement defense of two calls he made to his Chinese counterpart, saying he was responding to a “significant degree of intelligence” that China was worried about a U.S. attack.
“I know, I am certain, that President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese. … And it was my directed responsibility by the secretary to convey that intent to the Chinese,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “My task at that time was to deescalate. My message again was consistent: Stay calm, steady, and deescalate. We are not going to attack you.”
Milley has been at the center of controversy after reports that he made two calls to Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the United States was not suddenly going to go to war with or attack China. Details of the calls were first aired in excerpts from the recently released book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
While Tuesday’s hearing largely focused on the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others from the country, a few senators condemned Milley for what they saw as inappropriate communications with Li.