Gen. Mark Milley on Friday defended the calls he placed to his Chinese counterpart during Donald Trump’s final months in office as “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job as the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“These are routine calls in order to discuss issues of the day, to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case, in order to ensure strategic stability,” Milley told reporters traveling with him on a military jet, the newspaper reported.
Milley made two backchannel calls to China’s top general, Li Zuocheng, that were revealed in “Peril,” the forthcoming book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that details the final days of the Trump presidency. In October, as intelligence suggested China believed the US was going to attack them, Milley sought to calm Li by reassuring him that the US was not considering a strike, according to the book. Milley called again after the January 6 riot at the US Capitol to tell Li that the US is “100 percent steady.”
The top US defense official’s actions, which were reported by CNN and others this week ahead of the book’s release, drew sharp criticism from Trump and his allies, including calls for Milley’s resignation and that he be tried for treason, while the White House and current and former defense officials defended him.
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