U.S. Gen. Mark Milley said the calls he made to China were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his position as Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is referring to the two calls he made to Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng following the Jan. 6th Capitol riots. The audio above includes Gen. Milley’s comments.
He made the comments during a flight to Europe Friday. On the plane, Milley said he expects to answer “a lot of questions” about the calls when he testifies in front of the Senate and the House soon. Milley and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify Sept. 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee
“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military. But I would say that we put out a statement the other day,” Milley said. “I stand by that statement and we’ll talk about all the details in front of the United States Congress in a couple of weeks.”
According to the statement, written by Joint Staff Spokesperson Col. Dave Butler, Milley’s “calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability”.
The statement went on to say Milley regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the country, including China and Russia. “These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict,” Col. Butler said.
According to an upcoming book from Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Milley told Li the United States was not going to suddenly go to war with or attack China. Milley said he would warn Li if that was going to happen.
According to the book, the calls came out of a fear Milley had for what Former President Donald Trump would do in his last months in office.
Some U.S. lawmakers have said Milley overstepped his authority, and they have called for Biden to fire him. Trump blasted Milley as treasonous, called him “a complete nutjob” and said Milley “never told me about calls being made to China.”
Meanwhile, the current White House and the Pentagon have said they continue to have full trust and confidence in Milley.