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General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended phone calls in which, according to a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post, he reassured his Chinese counterpart that the United States would go through the transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden without launching an attack on Beijing.
As reported by Woodward and Costa, Milley made “a pair of secret phone calls” to General Li Zuocheng.
A call was reportedly made on October 30, 2020 – four days before the election. The other took place on January 8, two days later. Trump supporters attack Congress, seeking to reverse this defeat.
During the first appeal, also sparked by tensions in the South China Sea and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, Milley reportedly told Li: “I want to assure you that the US government is stable and that everything will be fine. We are not going to attack or conduct kinetic operations against you.
Milley also reportedly told the Chinese general that he would warn him if an attack was launched.
On the second call, after the Capitol riot, Milley told Li, “We are 100% stable. Everything is fine. But democracy can sometimes be botched.
During a military flight today, Milley told reporters: “These are routine calls to discuss the issues of the day, to reassure both allies and adversaries in this matter, to ensure strategic stability.
“And that is perfectly part of the duties and responsibilities of the president.”
Trump and his supporters have lashed out at the reported calls, accusing the general of treasonable behavior. Biden said Milley retains his “great confidence” as America’s most senior general.
On his flight to Athens on NATO business, Milley told reporters he would be happy to testify about the appeals, as he is due to do in the Senate on September 28.
“I will go into any level of detail that Congress wants to go into,” he said.
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