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 Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.
One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Donald 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.
In the second call, placed to address Chinese fears about the events of Jan. 6, Li wasnâ€™t as easily assuaged, even after Milley promised him, â€œWe are 100 percent steady. Everythingâ€™s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.â€
Li remained rattled, and Milley, who did not relay the conversation to Trump, according to the book, understood why. The chairman, 62 at the time and chosen by Trump in 2018, believed the president had suffered a mental decline after the election, the authors write, a view he communicated to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a phone call on Jan. 8. He agreed with her evaluation that Trump was unstable, according to a call transcript obtained by the authors.
"Throughout this whole period, I had rather firsthand understanding of what was going on in government, and it scared me. I was convinced without question that we were on the edge of an ultimate constitutional crisis" - @mccaffreyr3 w/ @NicolleDWallace pic.twitter.com/pQKYgo21BIâ€” Deadline White House (@DeadlineWH) September 14, 2021