President Joe Biden said he has “great confidence in Gen. [Mark] Milley” on Wednesday after new reporting accused him of secretly calling his Chinese counterpart and promising to warn the country in the event of a U.S. military strike.
Milley reportedly placed two secret phone calls – on in October 2020 and a second on Jan. 8 – assuring Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that the U.S. wouldn’t conduct a military strike, according to the upcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and reporter Robert Costa.
Milley also reportedly said he’d warn China in the event of an attack and kept the calls secret from then-President Donald Trump. The authors reported that Milley even called a secret meeting shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to ensure secure military officials would not take orders from anyone else prior to speaking directly with him.
Despite the allegations, the White House said Wednesday it is confident in Milley. Biden reaffirmed the administration’s support for the Joint Chiefs chairman, telling reporters that he has “great confidence” in him after being asked whether he believes Milley did “the right thing.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki repeatedly made similar comments at the press briefing, just before Biden praised Milley.
“What I can assure you all of is that the president knows Gen. Milley,” Psaki said. “He has been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for almost eight months of his presidency. They’ve worked side-by-side through a range of international events. The president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our constitution.”
“There has been widespread reporting and commentary from members of his own cabinet, the former president’s cabinet, including high-ranking national security officials, questioning the former president’s stability, his behavior, and his suitability to oversee the national security of the United States. So those are important questions that need to be discussed as well,” Psaki also said.
Milley denied wrongdoing in light of the allegations, with his spokesperson Col. Dave Butler suggesting the calls are normal and that everything happened by the book. (RELATED: ‘Extremely Dangerous Precedent’: Alexander Vindman Says Milley ‘Must Resign’ If He Skirted Chain Of Command)
“These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict,” Butler said.
“Also in keeping with his responsibilities as senior military advisor to the President and Secretary of Defense, General Milley frequently conducts meetings with uniformed leaders across the Services to ensure all leaders are aware of current issues,” Butler continued. “The meeting regarding nuclear weapons protocols was to remind uniformed leaders in the Pentagon of the long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject.”
Butler concluded by declaring that Milley “continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution.”