Milley had secret talks with China aside from Trump spreading election lies
WASHINGTON – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley made two phone calls with his Chinese counterpart during the waning months of Donald Trump’s presidency to secretly reassure Beijing that the United States would not attack the country, a spokesman for confirmed Milley on Wednesday.
The calls were first reported in the forthcoming book Peril by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
“His calls to the Chinese and others in October and January were in line with these duties and responsibilities and provided security to maintain strategic stability,” said spokesman, Col. Dave Butler.
All of Milley’s calls have been coordinated with the rest of the Department of Defense and other relevant agencies, Butler added.
Milley didn’t tell Trump about the calls.
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (L) and Gen. Li Zuocheng of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) salute during a welcoming ceremony at the Bayi Building in Beijing on Aug. 16, 2016.
Mark Schiefelbein | AFP | Getty Images
Woodward and Costa describe how Milley learned in October 2020 that the Chinese were concerned that Trump would preemptively attack China because Trump lost the 2020 election and his rhetoric against China became increasingly hostile.
Milley called his Chinese counterpart again on January 8, 2021, two days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, to reassure him that the American government was stable and not an imminent threat to China.
Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:
Milley’s spokesman also appeared to confirm that Milley kept him in power in the days following the Capitol attack on the 6th, after losing the election.
He told Pelosi that “this president or any president without proper certification has no chance of a snowball launching nuclear weapons illegally, immorally or unethically,” the book says.
Following the call, Milley, who “had no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump,” held a meeting with senior officers at the National Military Command Center to review nuclear weapons firing procedures, the book said.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley pauses at a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on August 18, 2021.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
The revelations sparked outrage among some Republicans, including Trump, who alleged Milley committed a crime by going behind the back of the then president to tell foreign opponents about US policy.
But they don’t seem to have hurt Milley’s standing with Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden.
When a reporter asked Biden on Wednesday whether Milley “did the right thing”, Biden replied, “I have great faith in General Milley.”
“Peril” should appear on Tuesday.
– CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this article.