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Milley held secret calls with China, others as Trump pushed election lies

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, pauses during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on August 18, 2021.

Youri Gripas | Reuters

WASHINGTON – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley made two phone calls to his Chinese counterpart in the final months of Donald Trump’s presidency to secretly reassure Beijing that the United States would not attack not the country, a spokesperson for Milley confirmed on Wednesday.

The calls were first reported in the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

“His appeals with the Chinese and others in October and January were consistent with these reassured duties and responsibilities in order to maintain strategic stability,” said spokesman Col. Dave Butler.

All of Milley’s calls were coordinated with the rest of the Defense Department and other relevant agencies, Butler added.

Milley did not speak to Trump about the calls.

Woodward and Costa describe how Milley learned in October 2020 that the Chinese feared Trump preemptively attacking China because Trump was losing the 2020 election and his rhetoric against China was growing increasingly hostile.

Milley called his Chinese counterpart again on January 8, 2021, two days after the attack on Capitol Hill, to reassure him again that the US government was stable and did not pose an immediate threat to China.

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Milley’s spokesperson also appeared to confirm that Milley spoke to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the days following the Jan.6 attack on the United States Capitol, to assure her that he there were safeguards in place to prevent Trump from launching nuclear weapons or ordering the military to try to keep him in power after losing the election.

He told Pelosi that “there is no chance of snowballing in hell, this president, or any president can unlawfully, immorally, unethically launch nuclear weapons without certification. appropriate, “according to the book.

After the call, MIlley, who “felt no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump,” held a meeting with senior officers from the National Military Command Center to review procedures for launching nuclear weapons. .

The revelations sparked outrage from some Republicans, including Trump, who suggested Milley committed a crime by going behind the then president’s back to communicate US policy to foreign adversaries.

But they don’t appear to have hurt Milley’s position with Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden.

Asked about the information on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that Biden had full confidence in Milley.

“The president knows General Milley, he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs for almost eight months of his presidency, they worked side by side through a series of international events. And the president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his loyalty to our Constitution, “Psaki told reporters.

“Peril” is due out on Tuesday.

Dan Mangan of CNBC contributed to this article.