During his opening statement in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning, General Mark Milley denied inappropriate phone calls with the Chinese military and tried to reassure Americans he is dedicated to civilian control of the military.
"I am specifically directed to communicate with the Chinese. These military to military communications at the highest level are critical to the security of the United States," Milley said. "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, and I will not turn my back on the fallen."
"I firmly believe in civilian control of the military," he continued.
Milley also stressed that he does not believe President Donald Trump planned to attack the Chinese in the final days of his presidency.
General Milley defends his calls with China:— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 28, 2021
"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, and I will not turn my back on the fallen." pic.twitter.com/fglOolPlHZ
In his remarks, Milley also addressed a phone call from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on January 8, 2021, in which she pressed him about the process to launch a nuclear weapon. Milley says he informed her that while launching such a weapon requires multiple people in the chain of command, the president is the sole authority to launch an attack.
"Speaker of the House Pelosi called me to inquire about the president's ability to launch nuclear weapons. I sought to assure her that nuclear launch is governed by a very specific and deliberate process. She was concerned and made various personal references characterizing the president [President Trump]. I explained to her the president is the sole nuclear launch authority and he doesn't launch them alone and that I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the President of the United States," Milley said. "There are processes, protocols and procedures in place and I repeatedly assured her there was no chance of an illegal, unauthorized or accidental launch. By presidential directive, and Secretary of Defense directive, the chairman is part of the process to ensure the president is fully informed when determining the use of the world's deadliest weapons. By law, I'm not in the chain of command and I know that. However, by presidential directive and DOD instruction, I am in the chain of communication to fulfill my legal, statutory role as the president's primary military advisor."
General Milley details his call with Speaker Pelosi: pic.twitter.com/UkCodaMiak— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) September 28, 2021
Milley said after the call from Pelosi, he convened a meeting with his staff to go through the process and procedures. He also told Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Miller about Pelosi's call.
"At no time was I trying to change or influence the process, usurp authority or insert myself in the chain-of-command," Milley said.