The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, broke his silence after receiving a great deal of criticism after it was published that he made telephone contacts with his counterpart in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In the statement, he defended his calls, assuring that they are part of the job, although he avoided going deeper into the matter.

Milley has been at the center of criticism from Republicans, journalists and even military colleagues after reports emerged that he made at least two calls to General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the U.S. was not suddenly going to go to war or attack China.

In his first public comments after the news broke, Milley said the calls were “to reassure both allies and adversaries to ensure strategic stability,” AP News reported.

During his interview with AP News, Milley avoided expanding on the matter and did not elaborate further. Instead, he offered only a brief comment on his two calls with CCP General Li Zuocheng, saying he plans a more in-depth discussion on the matter in Congress when he is due to testify at a hearing in late September.

“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do so in front of lawmakers who have the legal responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I’ll go into whatever level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

The scandal was sparked this week when a book written by journalist Bob Woodward and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa was published, in which Milley allegedly told Li that “if we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.” 

The call raised questions about whether Milley was undermining then-President Donald Trump’s authority and also whether his attitude involves a case of treason.

According to the book, which seeks to discredit the image of former President Trump, Milley allegedly made the calls because he feared that the president would unleash a war during the last days of his presidency, which obviously did not happen.

Former President Trump was one of many who in the last hours harshly criticized the actions of the military authority and said that if the reports about Milley’s calls are accurate, the general should be charged with treason against the United States.

Trump and so many others took the opportunity to criticize Milley also for his responsibility for the chaotic and hasty U.S. military withdrawal in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, a group of 27 House Republicans called on Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to conduct a formal investigation of Gen. Milley for his behavior during the Trump administration, citing national security risks.

“For the security of our Nation, you must formally investigate General Milley. You now have a letter demanding a formal Article 15-6 investigation. No matter how many stars are on his shoulders, he is never above his oath to support and defend the Constitution.” 

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