WASHINGTON (AP) – The top U.S. military officer is defending his phone calls to his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency as an effort to avoid misunderstandings and conflict.
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered his explanation Wednesday in a written statement. The Milley phone calls were described in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book says Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that he would warn his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack.
Missouri U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday if the allegations are true, it should cost Milley’s job.
“These are astounding reports and allegations that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs broke the chain of command, broke the civilian principle and the law frankly of civilian leadership of the military and communicated with a military opponent of the united states–China–and promised to tip them off to any action the united states might take before we would do it,” Hawley told FOX2 Wednesday. “If that’s true, then I’m afraid General Milley needs to be fired or resign.”
FOX News and Axios report that civilian leadership was involved in the meetings.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden has “complete confidence” in Milley.