Neither former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nor former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien were aware of any intelligence while they were in office that suggested that Chinese officials believed the United States was planning an attack on China in the time period surrounding the 2020 election, former government officials told Fox News on Friday.
The supposed intelligence was the basis for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley contacting his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, as described in the book “Peril,” co-written by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
Additionally, the former officials told Fox News that neither Pompeo nor O’Brien had spoken to Milley about the intelligence or the calls Milley made to China – one prior to November’s election and a second on Jan. 8, 2021, following the Capitol riots that took place two days earlier.
MILLEY SECRETLY CALLED CHINESE OFFICIALS OUT OF FEAR TRUMP WOULD ‘ATTACK’ IN FINAL DAYS, BOOK CLAIMS
The book from Woodward and Costa claimed Milley reached out to Li after he had reviewed intelligence that the Chinese were concerned about a possible U.S. attack amid military exercises in the South China Sea. In the second call, Milley reportedly assured China that the U.S. would not attack or advance on them.
Milley gave his first public comments on the controversy Friday, telling The Associated Press the calls were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job. He also described the conversations as “routine” and ]done “to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.”
MILLEY SPOKESMAN DEFENDS CALLS WITH CHINA AS ‘VITAL’ TO ‘AVOIDING UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OR CONFLICT’
Former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, who was in office during the period after the 2020 election through Inauguration Day, said that he “did not and would not ever authorize” Milley to have such calls, describing the allegations in the book as a “disgraceful and unprecedented act of insubordination.”
U.S. officials, however, told Fox News the calls “were not secret,” and were coordinated with the Defense secretary’s office.
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Fox News learned that 15 officials were present for the calls, which were conducted via video conferencing. Sources familiar with the calls said that there were notetakers present for the calls, and that they had been made with the knowledge of Miller and his predecessor, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.