On Friday, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded to reports alleging he told his Chinese counterpart that he would warn China, one of America’s biggest adversaries, if then-President Trump ordered a strike against the Communist country. Milley said such calls were “routine” and “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities of the chairman.”
“These are routine calls in order to discuss issues of the day, to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case, in order to ensure strategic stability,” Gen. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Wall Street Journal. “And these are perfectly within the duties and responsibilities of the chairman.”
Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that Milley told Chinese General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that he would warn China if Trump ordered a strike against the country.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay. We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you,” Milley reportedly said. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Trump also released a statement responding to the report, saying in part, “For the record, I never even thought of attacking China—and China knows that. The people that fabricated the story are sick and demented, and the people who print it are just as bad. In fact, I’m the only President in decades who didn’t get the U.S. into a war—a well known fact that is seldom reported.”
Milley is set to testify in front of Congress on September 28th, but the questioning will be largely focused on his role in the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“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,” Milley said in a statement through a spokesperson. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”