Former president Donald Trump said in a statement on Nov. 26 that he never considered going to war with China.
Trump’s remarks were part of a tirade against Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who told Congress in September that he assured a top Chinese general that the United States was not going to attack China.
“I never had even a thought of going to war with China, other than the war I was winning, which was on TRADE,” Trump said. “I was the only President in decades to not get us into a war—I got us out of wars!”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Milley’s spokesman, Dave Butler, did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump’s statement on Friday also targeted Bob Woodward, the author of one of the books in which the revelations of Milley’s calls with China were first made.
Milley told the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services in September that he told Chinese Gen. Li Zuocheng that he would warn China if the United States was planning an attack. Trump suggested in the statement on Friday that such a call would amount to treason.
Milley told the Armed Services Committee on Sept. 28 that he spoke to Li on Oct. 30, 2020, and Jan. 8, 2021. Eight U.S. officials listened in on the first call and eleven on the second, Milley testified.
“And I told him that we are not going to attack. President Trump has no intent to attack. And I told him that repeatedly, and I told him if there was going to be an attack there will be plenty of communications going back and forth, your intel systems are going to pick it up,” Milley said on Sept. 28.
“I will probably call you. Everybody will be calling you. We are not going to attack you. Just settle down. It is not going to happen,” Milley added.
Former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller, who briefly led the Pentagon from late 2020 until January 2021, said he did not authorize the calls between Milley and Li.
Miller said Milley’s actions were “a disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination by the nation’s top military officer.”
Milley told the committee that both calls with his Chinese Communist Party counterpart were coordinated with Miller’s staff “and the interagency.”
“The specific purpose of the October and January calls were generated by concerning intelligence which caused us to believe the Chinese were worried about an attack on them by the United States,” Milley told the senators.
John Ratcliffe, who served as the director of national intelligence during the period when both of the calls took place, refuted Milley’s claim about the “concerning intelligence.”
“There was no concerning intelligence that merited a call to his Chinese counterpart,” Ratcliffe told Fox News after Milley’s testimony in September, adding that he supplied Milley with intelligence.
“The idea that he’d have better or different intelligence, or have concerns about it that he wouldn’t share with me as the president’s principal intelligence adviser, is absurd,” Ratcliffe said.
Jack Phillips and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.