General Milley stated he was not sidelining President Donald Trump or trying to influence nuclear launch protocols with a pair of calls to China about potential conflict at the end of the last administration.
“At no time was I attempting to change or influence the process, usurp authority or insert myself into the chain of command,” Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday after reports of the calls in the book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa caused a storm of controversy.
“The calls on 30 October and 8 January were coordinated before and after with Secretary [Mark] Esper and acting Secretary [Chris] Miller’s staffs and the interagency,” Milley said during an opening statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “My task at that time was to de-escalate,” he said.
Milley said he made the calls to assure Chinese officials that there would not be attacks by the U.S. military after intelligence officials flagged concerns that the Chinese believed such a strike was possible.
“At no time was I attempting to change or influence the process, usurp authority, or insert myself into the chain of command, but I am expected to give my advice and ensure that the president is fully informed,” he said.
Milley said the October call was made at the direction of Esper, and the second was done at the request of the Chinese and coordinated with Miller’s office. Additionally, he told senators he knew Trump wasn’t planning to attack China.