Gen. Milley says he was ‘certain President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese’

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and former President Trump.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and former President Donald Trump. Patrick Semansky and Sean Rayford/Getty Images
  • Gen. Mark Milley defended a series of calls he made to his Chinese counterpart during the Trump administration.
  • “I am certain that President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese,” Milley said.
  • The calls were originally reported in a new book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In his opening testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee on Tuesday, Gen. Mark Milley – chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – defended his decisions to call his Chinese counterpart twice during the final months of the Trump administration.

“I know, I am certain, that President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese,” Milley said emphatically, explaining that the calls to the Chinese were generated by “concerning intelligence” that China believed an attack was imminent.

Milley said the calls were made to assure China that the US had no plans to attack it to try to reassure worried Chinese leaders. China has one of the world’s largest militaries and like the US is armed with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Milley also addressed his call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on January 8, noting the speaker made numerous personal references about the then-President during the call. “I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the President of the United States,” Milley says he told Pelosi.

The remarks came during a hearing on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as Milley testified alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command.

Ahead of the publication of “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa earlier this month, reports emerged that Milley made calls to his Chinese counterpart out of fear that Trump might start a war with the country during his final months in office. The former president has falsely said that Milley may be guilty of “treason” for his actions, while some congressional Republicans called for the general to be court martialed.