Top US general staunchly defends calls with China

US General Mark Milley, the highest US army officer, has defended calls with China which have raised Republican calls for for his resignation, saying he had been aiming to ease pressure with Beijing and to not "usurp authority".

The remarks had been Gen Milley's first detailed defence of his actions since a e book detailed what it described as "secret" calls with General Li Zuocheng of the People's Liberation Army on 30 October 2020 and once more on 8 January.

The e book cited Beijing's considerations that then-president Donald Trump might spark a struggle with China as his potential election loss loomed, and in its aftermath.

Gen Milley broadly confirmed the premise of the account however dismissed the concept that the calls had been secret, saying that they had been coordinated with the US authorities.

"I know, I am certain, President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese and it is my directed responsibility to convey presidential orders and intent," Gen Milley instructed the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"My message again was consistent: calm, steady, de-escalate. 'We are not going to attack you'."

US President Joe Biden has supported Gen Milley all through the controversy surrounding the calls, saying he had "great confidence" in him.

It is the most recent controversy surrounding the highest US army officer, who triggered an uproar final yr after accompanying Mr Trump towards a church for a photograph alternative after authorities cracked down on civil rights protesters.

He later mentioned he regretted it, saying it created a notion of a army concerned in home politics.

Gen Milley publicly confirmed intelligence that triggered US officers to consider China was "worried about an attack" by the United States.

Gen Milley acknowledged that he spoke on 8 January with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, in keeping with the Washington Post, had requested the general what safeguards had been in place to stop an "unstable president" from launching a nuclear strike.

"He's crazy. You know he's crazy," Ms Pelosi instructed Gen Milley, the newspaper reported, citing a transcript of the decision.

Gen Milley, in his remarks to Congress, mentioned Ms Pelosi had requested him on 8 January about whether or not Mr Trump's actions may result in an unintentional nuclear missile launch.

He responded by assuring her of safeguards and added: "I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the president of the United States."

Gen Milley instructed the Senate Armed Services Committee: "At no time was I attempting to change or influence the process, usurp authority, or insert myself into the chain of command."

Mr Trump, in a press release, has mentioned he "never even thought of attacking China". But after the preliminary account of Gen Milley's calls with China surfaced, Mr Trump mentioned Gen Milley needs to be fired in the event that they had been true.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio has known as for Gen Milley's resignation. Senator Rand Paul mentioned he needs to be prosecuted if the account within the e book was true.

Some of the strongest considerations have come from politicians within the House, the place Gen Milley will testify tomorrow.

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