Gen. Milley Defends His Calls to China Before Congress

'My job was to de-escalate,' he testifies
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 28, 2021 10:07 AM CDT
Gen. Milley Defends His Calls to China Before Congress
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

The top US military official appeared before Congress on Tuesday and defended controversial calls he made to his Chinese counterparts near the end of the Trump administration. While critics have accused Milley of overstepping his authority, he said the calls were just part of his job:

  • 'De-escalate': Milley said he placed the calls because he had received intelligence suggesting that China feared a US attack. “I know, I am certain, that President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese and it was my directed responsibility to convey presidential orders and intent,” Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee, per the AP. “My task at that time was to de-escalate. My message again was consistent: Stay calm, steady, and de-escalate. We are not going to attack you.”

  • Not secret: Milley also said both calls, one in October and another in January, "were coordinated before and after with [Defense] Secretary [Mark T.] Esper and acting secretary [Christopher C.] Miller’s staffs and the interagency,” per the Washington Post. He also said he briefed Miller, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the second call after it took place. He added that 11 people were present when he made the latter call.
  • Nukes: The general also addressed a phone call he had with Nancy Pelosi, who expressed concern about the nuclear codes. “There are processes, protocols, and procedures in place and I repeatedly assured her there is no chance of an illegal, unauthorized, or accidental launch,” Milley said. After the call, he said he met with staff to go over the protocols and briefed Miller about the meeting. “At no time was I attempting to change or influence the process, usurp authority, or insert myself into the chain of command,” Milley said.
(Read more Mark Milley stories.)

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