Gen Mark Milley, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, forcefully defended his own patriotism and his actions regarding calls with a top Chinese general that have become the center of controversy among Republicans and supporters of former President Donald Trump during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the general used his opening statement to address reports of his communications with his counterpart in China regarding the Chinese military’s concerns that an increasingly erratic Mr Trump would order a military strike in the waning days of his presidency.
“I know, I am certain, President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese and it is my directed responsibility – to convey presidential orders and intent. My job at that time was to de-escalate. My message again was consistent: calm, steady, deescalate. We are not going to attack you,” he said, adding that Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other civilian personnel were involved with the call before, during and after it occurred.
Adding of his own loyalty, which has been questioned by some GOP lawmakers and commentators: “My loyalty to this nation, its people, and the Constitution hasn’t changed and will never change as long as I have a breath to give. My loyalty is absolute.”