In their new book, “Peril,” journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa claim that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so concerned that then-President Donald Trump would “go rogue” and “spark a war with China” that he made a “pair of secret phone calls” to his counterpoint in China, per The Washington Post.
“Woodward and Costa write that after January 6, Milley ‘felt no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump and believed it was his job as the senior military officer to think the unthinkable and take any and all necessary precautions,’” according to a CNN writeup on the same report, that added that Milley thought Trump might “wag the dog” — provoke “a conflict domestically or abroad to distract from his crushing election loss.”
Milley was so fearful of Trump attacking China, the Post notes, that he appears to have undermined the Trump administration and communicated directly with Chinese officials.
“In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike,” the pair of reporters noted. ‘One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote.”
Shockingly, according to Woodward and Costa, it seems Milley communicated sensitive information to a Chinese general and even suggested that he would warn China ahead of time if he discovered that Trump planned to attack.
The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley told him. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”
In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
The Washington Post noted that Li took Milley “at his word.”
The CNN writeup also noted that Milley had a conversation with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who, herself, seemed prepared to assume power.
“Milley received a blunt phone call from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to the book. Woodward and Costa exclusively obtained a transcript of the call, during which Milley tried to reassure Pelosi that the nuclear weapons were safe,” per CNN. “Pelosi pushed back.”
“What I’m saying to you is that if they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?” Pelosi reportedly told the General. “You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.”
Milley, the authors wrote, told Pelosi that he “agreed.”
Woodward and Costa’s book covers the waning days of the Trump administration, most notably the period following the election but before Trump was scheduled to leave office, and chronicles the Biden campaign. The book “is based on interviews with more than 200 people, conducted on the condition they not be named as sources. Exact quotations or conclusions are drawn from the participant in the described event, a colleague with direct knowledge or relevant documents, according to an author’s note. Trump and Biden declined to be interviewed,” The Washington Post said.