US President Joe Biden has said he supports US Secretary-General Mark Milley, who is under increasing pressure to report that he may have exceeded his authority during the presidency of Donald Trump.
Biden has “full confidence” in Milley, who serves as chairman of the joint heads, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday.
A day earlier, reports from an emerging book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa claim that Milley thought that then-President Donald Trump was suffering from a mental decline. called his Chinese counterpart twicelate in 2020 and early 2021 to prevent possible military conflict with China.
Excerpts from the book, Peril, first unveiled by the Washington Post, said Milley had assured Li Zuocheng, the top Chinese general, that the US would not attack China and that he would inform him of an attack if that were to happen.
“If we’re going to attack, I’ll call you ahead of time. This is not going to be a surprise, ‘the book, based on hundreds of interviews, quotes Milley as saying to Li.
Tuesday’s reports led to Republican Milley resigning, while Trump accused the general of treason.
But the White House indicated that Biden was standing by Milley. “The president has full confidence in his leadership, his patriotism and his loyalty to our Constitution,” Psaki said.
Later that day, Biden himself told reporters outside the White House: “I have great confidence in General Milley.”
Milley’s office issued its own statement denying the general’s offense and stressing that he regularly contacts foreign counterparts.
“His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in line with these duties and responsibilities that provide reassurance for maintaining strategic stability,” said Dave Butler, a Milley spokeswoman.
“All calls from the chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are manned, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the Interagency.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had “full confidence and confidence” in Milley.
Kirby declined to discuss the details of the alleged revelations in the book, but said it was “not atypical” for the top US general to communicate with foreign military leaders, including those from Russia and China.
“This is not only common, but the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is expected to continue to hold talks,” Kirby said.
But many Republicans are already coming after Milley, accusing him of violating the command of the elected civilian leadership over the military.
Senator Marco Rubio has called on Biden to fire Milley, who was appointed by Trump in 2018, immediately. He calls Milley’s actions a ‘dangerous precedent’.
“It threatens to undermine the long-standing principle of civilian control over our country’s army,” Rubio wrote in a letter to Biden.
Senator Rand Paul, an ally of Trump, called for a speedy investigation against the general.
“Milley was not elected president. “I can not even tell you how incredibly dangerous it is,” Paul told conservative host Glenn Beck on Wednesday.
In an interview with Newsmax on Tuesday, Trump scolded Milley and rejected the idea that he was considering ordering an attack on China.
“This is a treacherous statement, and I can not tell you how many people are calling about it,” Trump said of Milley’s call to Li. “It’s a shame.”
The White House, for its part, has confirmed that it will not take action against Milley based on the information published in the Post Journalists. Psaki said Biden thinks Milley is an ‘honorary resident’.
“He knows General Milley, and he’s been working alongside him for the past eight months, and that gives the president confidence in him,” Psaki said. “We leave it to Congress and others to ask questions they want to ask.”