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Retired general defends Mark Milley's calls to China on Fox News: 'Being sensationalized'

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Retired Gen. Jack Keane appeared Wednesday on The Story With Martha MacCallum, where he came to the defense of Gen.Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In their upcoming book Peril, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa report that Milly made secret calls with China in October 2020 and January 2021 over fears former President Trump might start a war. The authors claim that the purpose of the calls was to assure his Chinese counterpart that Trump would not start a war.

While Republicans have become enraged by the reporting, calling Milley’s actions treasonous, and calling for him to resign or be fired, Keane says the calls were nothing out of the ordinary.

“Gen. Milley’s making a phone call to provide reassurances, which is his job,” Keane said. “I mean, he's executing his responsibility and he’s doing it in concert with his own advisers and then sharing that with the interagency.”

Keane also said that the president not being briefed on the calls was nothing unusual, and believes the whole story is being overblown.

“I don’t see anything that is undermining the civilian control of the military,” Keane said. “If you took the facts, that are, I think, being sensationalized in this report, that would be an issue, as you (McCallum) just regurgitated here. But that is not what the Pentagon is reporting. It seems to be pretty much in sync with what we're used to seeing.”

One of the points of outrage among some is the report that Milley made these calls in secret, with some critics believing he was undermining Trump, as has been the message in some segments on Fox News’s primetime shows. But Fox’s own Jennifer Griffin reported on Wednesday that the calls were in fact not secret, and that they were coordinated with multiple high-level Pentagon officials. It was even reported that Trump’s Secretary of Defense Mark Esper took the lead in the first call.

Keane believes that once the facts come out, they will be much less salacious than the stories being circulated right now.

“I think we’re going to get all the facts on this, and I'd be surprised if it's anything more than what we're seeing right now,” Keane said. “Leaders calling Chinese leaders to provide them with a degree of assurance because of their concerns that they had been expressing, likely to one another.”

Keane also responded to some right-wing voices demanding that the call transcripts be released.

“I don’t think we should make it a habit to [be] releasing transcripts. I mean, just think about this. Let’s use some common sense here,” Keane said. “Milley is developing a relationship with an adversarial counterpart, and if we start releasing transcripts of those conversations, that’s just going to blow up the relationship.”

The Story With Martha MacCallum airs weekdays at 3 p.m. on Fox News Channel.

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