President Joe Biden reportedly remains confident in Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley despite his controversial phone calls to China, and says there is no need for his resignation.
The Conservative Brief said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated during the press briefing last Wednesday that "the president has complete confidence" in Milley's "leadership" and that there was no need for him to resign.
Accordingly, Psaki said before the press briefing that she will make a "huge announcement" on that day. Former President Donald Trump's Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis, after watching the press briefing, tweeted sarcastically regarding Psaki's supposed "huge announcement."
"Psaki makes a huge announcement," Ellis said complete with emojis of eyes wide open.
Milley was cited in the new book of Washington Post writers Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, "Peril," for making secret phone calls to the Chinese Communist Party assuring them they will be forewarned should the United States decide to attack them.
During the press briefing, Psaki was asked by a reporter named Jonathan regarding "Peril" and Milley. The reporter highlighted that Milley, who released a statement on the controversy, did not deny what the Washington Post authors revealed. The reporter then asked how does Biden feel about the said phone calls and about the call of Republican senators for his dismissal.
"A new book reports that near the end of the Trump presidency, Chairman Milley had two conversations with his Chinese counterpart, promising the countries would not go to war and that he would give an early warning if something were to happen. In a statement just minutes ago, Chairman Milley did not dispute this account. On this, does the President feel that these calls were appropriate? Does he have confidence in the Chairman? And some Republican senators have called for Chairman Milley to be dismissed. Is he going to keep his job?" Jonathan said.
Psaki responded by confirming she has read Milley's statement on the matter and pointed out that she would not like to add to it. Psaki assured that the President is confident with Milley.
"I'm not going to add more or speak to anonymous, unconfirmed reports about conversations with limited context from here. But what I can assure you all of is that the President knows General Milley. He has been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for almost eight months of his presidency. They've worked side-by-side through a range of international events. And the President has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our Constitution," Psaki remarked.
In addition, Psaki urged those present in the press briefing to look at the context of the time in American history during which the book revealed the phone call took place. She highlighted that it was a time of transition from former President Donald Trump--something she called as a time of "fomented unrest"--to that of Biden. She highlighted Trump's Cabinet who also questioned his "stability," "behavior," and "suitability to oversee the national security of the United States."
The reporter then raised a follow-up question on whether Biden believes Milley "should testify before Congress about his actions during that time." Psaki did not address the question directly but instead highlighted the administration's usual cooperation with Congress for "their needs."
"Look, I think we--the President has been clear with his administration and members of his Cabinet and national security team that we will continue to work with Congress and cooperate with them as appropriate in meeting their needs. We've done that from the beginning of the administration," Psaki said.
"I would defer to the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs for further decisions," she ended.
Meanwhile, in the statement released by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs Office through its Spokesperson Colonel Dave Butler, the phone calls made by Milley to China were confirmed as part of his role "to maintain strategic stability."
"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs regularly communicates with Chiefs of Defense across the world, including with China and Russia. These conversations remain vital to improving mutual understanding of U.S. national security interests, reducing tensions, providing clarity and avoiding unintended consequences or conflict," Butler said.
"His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability. All calls from the Chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency," he stressed.
Regardless of what the current administration says, former President Donald Trump, who was still in position when Milley made the calls, previously said that in the event that Milley's calls to the Chinese are proven to have occurred, they should be considered an act of "treason."