US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley on Wednesday refuted the idea that he had extrapolated his legal authority when he twice spoke with Chinese military authorities to assert that the US was not planning an attack against the Asian country.
Through a spokesman, the American military chief said that he only acted to ensure strategic stability, and not to assume attributions that, in its origin, belonged to the then president, Republican Donald Trump.
Milley’s two conversations with Li Zuocheng, chief of the Chinese General Staff, in October and January, are revealed in the book “Peril” (danger), by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which is scheduled for release in the next week. On Tuesday (14), the American newspaper The Washington Post, for which reporters work, provided excerpts of the content.
According to the investigation made for the material, which involved more than 200 interviews, Milley tried to calm the relationship with the Chinese and even revised procedures for the launching of nuclear weapons, in order to ensure that such a decision, even if it fits. to the president, had to go through him. The general claimed to fear a deterioration in Trump’s mental state.
Milley’s spokesman Colonel Dave Butler said in a statement that “the Chief of Staff communicates regularly with defense chiefs around the world, including China and Russia.” “These conversations remain vital to improving the mutual cooperation of US national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity, and avoiding unintended consequences or conflicts.”
Butler said that all of Milley’s calls to his counterparts, including those reported in the book, are coordinated with the Defense Department and US intelligence agencies and that the general “continues to act within his legal authority and his oath to the Constitution. .”
In a statement released Tuesday, Trump called the story revealed by Washington Post reporters “fabricated” and said that, if true, General Milley should be tried for treason. “Just for the record, I never thought of attacking China,” he amended. The backstage of the Republican government is the subject of two other books by journalist Bob Woodward — “Fear” (fear) and “Rage” (anger).
Milley was nominated by Trump as chief of staff in 2018, but began to come under criticism from the Republican, as well as other high-ranking officials, after the elections that lifted Joe Biden to the presidency in November 2020.
After the book’s revelations, Republican senator Marco Rubio asked that the general be fired, but the demand received low support from other lawmakers, especially Democrats. In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, the senator alleged that the reported actions show that Milley carried out “a betrayal by leaking confidential information to the Communist Party of China.”
Biden, for his part, said he had “complete confidence in Milley’s leadership”. The White House, through spokeswoman Jen Psaki, rejected criticism of the general arguing that the actions were understandable since he was working with Trump, who had instigated the Capitol invasion in January — one of Milley’s calls to the Chinese Chief of Staff was made two days after the episode at the headquarters of the American Legislative.
Psaki echoed the short statement given earlier by Biden. “The current president [Biden], who follows the Constitution, who is not fomenting an insurrection and who follows the rule of law, has full confidence in General Milley, who will continue to serve in his post.”
Chinese suspicions about a possible US attack, according to the Washington Post reporters, have arisen after tensions with the US in the South China Sea — the main trade route for Beijing — and gained momentum with the rhetorical attacks made by Trump against the country.
Figures such as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and the current director of the CIA (American intelligence agency), Gina Haspel, would agree with Milley’s assessments that Trump was unstable. “We are on the way to a right-wing coup,” Haspel is said to have said, according to conversations available in the book.