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White House backs Mark Milley after reports he called China

White House backs Mark Milley after reports he called China

dpa
Washington
The White House rallied on Wednesday around General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs, after a prominent Republican called for his resignation following reports of back-channel calls with his Chinese counterpart at the end of the Trump administration.
“The president has complete confidence in his leadership, his patriotism, and his fidelity to our Constitution,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during the daily White House briefing. President Joe Biden later told reporters that he has “great confidence” in Milley.
The calls were reported in “Peril,” a new book by the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa about the rocky transition as the presidency shifted from Donald Trump to Biden.
According to the book, Milley spoke with his Chinese counterpart in October and January. Milley wanted to allay fears that an increasingly desperate Trump might launch a unilateral attack.
The first call took place shortly before the election, and the second came January 8, two days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S.
Capitol, seeking to overturn the results of the election by force. Critics, such as Florida’s Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for Biden to fire Milley immediately.
But Wednesday’s vote of confidence from the White House made it appear that the president has no immediate plans to replace Milley, whose four-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs runs through October 2023.
Two narratives have sprung up around Milley’s phone calls.

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