“I have great confidence in Gen. Milley,” Biden said when asked by a reporter whether Milley had done the right thing.
In a penned address, Milley's spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, said Milley appeared within his authority as the most senior uniformed consultant to the president and to the secretary of defense.
“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,” Butler said. “All calls from the chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency.”
The Milley phone calls were reported in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book says Milley told Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that he would inform his counterpart in case of a U.S. attack.
Milley was selected chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2019 by Trump and kept on by Biden. In that place, Milley does not order any soldiers but rather is an adviser to the president and to the secretary of defense.
The book by Woodward and Costa reported that Milley, fearful of Trump's actions in his final weeks as president, twice called his Chinese counterpart to encourage him that the United States was not moving to attack China.
One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that Trump lost. The second call was on Jan. 8, 2021, less than two weeks before Biden's inauguration and just two days after the revolt at the U.S. Capitol by followers of Trump.
The Associated Press received a copy of the book. Descriptions from the book, which is set to be issued next week, were first reported by The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Trump said Milley should be accused of treason if it was approved that Milley had promised Li that he would warn him in the event of a U.S. 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’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise," Milley reportedly said.