By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart | Reuters
WASHINGTON — The senior US general said he was not making secret calls to China circulating civilian government leaders, his office said on Wednesday, a day after quotes from a book in which he claimed he had secretly called his Chinese counterpart twice over the concerns of then-President Donald Trump. It could lead to a war with China.
“All calls to colleagues, including those reported by the President, are coordinated and forwarded to Department of Defense and interagency personnel,” said Colonel Dave Butler, Milley’s spokesman.
“General Milley continues to act and advise within his authority, taking an oath to the Constitution and legal tradition of civilian oversight of the military,” Butler said.
The White House said on Wednesday that President Joe Biden fully trusts Milley’s leadership.
Excerpts from the book, reported by The Washington Post, said Milley was trying to reassure General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army in phone calls that the United States was stable and would not attack, and would not attack if necessary. If there was an attack, he would warn his interlocutor in advance.
Butler said Milley’s talks with the Chinese and others in October and January were “consistent with these mandates and responsibilities that reassured them to maintain strategic stability.”
The book “Danger,” which journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa say is based on interviews with 200 sources, will be published next week.
On Tuesday, Trump cast doubt on the story, calling it “fake” in a statement. He said that if the story was true, Milley should be tried for treason.
“I don’t know, I never thought of attacking China,” Trump said.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio urged Democrat Biden to fire Milley immediately.
A Congressional official told Reuters that Rubio’s call for Milley’s impeachment had zero or near zero support among Senate Democrats, calling it partisan noise.