'in keeping with these duties and responsibilities'
A spokesman for Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley on Wednesday issued a statement seemingly dismissing reports about the general in a forthcoming book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
An excerpt from Peril published by CNN on Tuesday revealed that Milley reportedly had two conversations with his Chinese counterpart, assuring him that former President Donald Trump was not going to launch a nuclear attack against China. The book also alleges that, after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Milley gathered top military commanders and told them that they shouldn't adhere to any nuclear strike orders unless he was involved in the planning.
That information led to some harsh criticism and calls for Milley's resignation or firing, particularly from Republicans and Trump supporters, who felt that Milley was undermining the commander-in-chief.
In Wednesday's statement, however, Col. Dave Butler said Milley's actions were "in keeping" with his normal duties and responsibilities, which include holding conversations with adversaries like China and Russia to improve understanding and reduce tensions. Those calls, he explained, are "staffed, coordinated, and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency." Butler also said the meeting with military leaders was routine, and, in this case, was to remind them of "long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject." Read the full statement below.
Milley later received an endorsement from the Biden administration on Wednesday when White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden has "complete confidence" in him.