Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Tuesday said he was not trying to “usurp authority” when he told his Chinese counterpart he would warn them before the U.S. attacked them and that other administration officials were aware of the calls.
Milley has been at the center of a firestorm amid reports he made two calls to Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the United States was not going to suddenly go to war with or attack China. The calls were revealed in a new book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, “Peril.”
Milley said he made the calls to assure Chinese officials that there would not be attacks by the U.S. military after intelligence officials flagged concerns that the Chinese believed such a strike was possible. “The calls on 30 October and 8 January were coordinated before and after with Secretary [Mark] Esper and acting Secretary [Chris] Miller’s staffs and the interagency,” Milley said during an opening statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “My task at that time was to de-escalate,” he said.
Gen Milley stuff Tom Cotton in a locker today, after Cotton asks him why he didn’t resign over Afghanistan. This is one of the best answers I’ve ever heard a military officer give before Congress. pic.twitter.com/NAqbloa29w
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) September 28, 2021
“At no time was I attempting to change or influence the process, usurp authority, or insert myself into the chain of command, but I am expected to give my advice and ensure that the president is fully informed,” he said. Milley said the October call was made at the direction of Esper, and the second was done at the request of the Chinese and coordinated with Miller’s office. The second call, on Jan. 8, came two days after a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential win.
Gen. Milley says it is "a near certainty" that there would have been another deadly attack on U.S. forces if they had stayed in Afghanistan past August 31 https://t.co/woqOvR9R0f pic.twitter.com/b07zM1QBCx
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 28, 2021
During the question portion of the hearing, Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn, (R-TN) asked Milley to confirm he spoke to the authors of the book. “Woodward yes, Costa no,” said Milley in response to the question. When asked if he was depicted accurately, Milley told Blackburn he hadn’t read the book, she urged him to do so and get back to her, in which he replied, “happy to do that.”
Josh Hawley tells General Milley and Defense Secretary Austin that they should resign to their faces. pic.twitter.com/n7W6qmBTxV
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 28, 2021
Additionally, he told senators he knew Trump wasn’t planning to attack China. “I know, I am certain, President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese and it is my directed responsibility — to convey presidential orders and intent,” Milley said.