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Top General Milley reassured China, others in secret phone calls, when Trump spread election lies, a spokesman said

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley pauses at a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on August 18, 2021.

Yuri Gripas | Reuters

WASHINGTON – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley made two phone calls with his Chinese counterpart during the waning months of Donald Trump's presidency to secretly reassure Beijing that the United States would not attack the country, a spokesman for confirmed Milley on Wednesday.

The calls were first reported in the forthcoming book Peril by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

"His calls to the Chinese and others in October and January were in line with these duties and responsibilities and provided security to maintain strategic stability," said spokesman, Col. Dave Butler.

All calls from Milley have been coordinated with the rest of the Department of Defense and other relevant agencies, Butler added.

Milley didn't tell Trump about the calls.

Woodward and Costa describe how Milley learned in October 2020 that the Chinese were concerned that Trump would preemptively attack China because Trump lost the 2020 election and his rhetoric against China became increasingly hostile.

Milley called his Chinese counterpart again on January 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol attack, to reassure him that the American government was stable and not an imminent threat to China.

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Milley's spokesman also appeared to confirm that in the days following the attack on the U.S. Capitol on the 6th, Milley was trying to keep him in power after losing the election.

He told Pelosi that "this president, or any president without proper certification, has no chance of a snowball, or any president can fire nuclear weapons illegally, immorally or unethically," the book says.

Following the call, Milley, who "had no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump," held a meeting with senior officers at the National Military Command Center to review nuclear weapons firing procedures.

The revelations sparked outrage among some Republicans, including Trump, who alleged Milley committed a crime by going behind the back of the then president to tell foreign opponents about US policy.

But they don't seem to have hurt Milley's standing with Trump's successor, President Joe Biden.

When asked about the reports on Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that Biden has full confidence in Milley.

"The president knows General Milley, he's chaired the Joint Chiefs for nearly eight months, they've worked side by side at a number of international events. And the president has every confidence in his leadership, patriotism, and loyalty to it our constitution, "Psaki told reporters.

"Peril" should appear on Tuesday.

CNBC's Dan Mangan contributed to this article.

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