US military chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, made informal contact with his Chinese counterpart in the final phases of the Trump presidency. The contacts were made outside of the president's knowledge, and Milley was trying to assuage fears that the two countries could go to war, The Washington Post quoted excerpts from a new book Peril, by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
According to the Post's excerpt, Milley told Gen Li Zuocheng of the People's Liberation Army that the United States will not conduct strikes. Milley was reportedly concerned by intelligence reports that Trump was planning military ops against China. The first call was made on October 30, 2020, four days before the election that defeated Trump. The second call was on January 8, 2021, just two days after the insurrection at the US Capitol by supporters of Trump. In the second instance, Milley assured Li that the United States was stable.
Milley promised Li that he would warn in advance in the event of a US attack.
"General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay," Milley told him in the first call, according to the book. "We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you. If we are going to attack, I am going to call you ahead of time. It is not going to be a surprise," Milley reportedly said, according to the book.
Milley believed the president suffered a mental decline after the election, agreeing with a view shared by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a phone call they had January 8, according to the excerpt.
In response to the book, news agency AP reported that Republican Senator Marco Rubio sent President Joe Biden a letter Tuesday urging him to fire Milley, saying the general worked to actively undermine the sitting commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces and contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party in advance of a potential armed conflict with the People's Republic of China (PRC).