National Security

Milley Spokesperson Denies Wrongdoing Over Allegations That He Secretly Spoke With China At End Of Trump Administration

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley’s spokesperson denied any wrongdoing Wednesday after new reporting accused the top U.S. military officer of secretly promising to warn China in the event the U.S. was preparing a military strike.

Milley reportedly placed two secret phone calls on Oct. 30, 2020, and Jan. 8 to assure Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that America wouldn’t be issuing a military strike, according to the upcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and reporter Robert Costa. During the phone calls, Milley also reportedly said he’d warn China in the event of an attack.

“The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia,” Milley spokesman Col. Dave Butler said Wednesday. “These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict.” (RELATED: ‘Extremely Dangerous Precedent’: Alexander Vindman Says Milley ‘Must Resign’ If He Skirted Chain Of Command)

“His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability. All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency,” Butler continued.

Milley kept the calls secret from then-President Donald Trump, according to the authors. He also reportedly pushed Ret. Adm. Philip Davidson, the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at the time, to halt military exercises in the area.

The statement also denied wrongdoing regarding another allegation in the book — that Milley called a secret meeting shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to ensure secure military officials would not take orders from anyone prior to speaking with him.

“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 said. “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.”

“General 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,” the statement concluded.