According to excerpts from an upcoming book the top US military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, was so concerned that then-President Donald Trump might attempt a coup or take other dangerous or illegal measures after the November election, that he and other top officials informally planned for various ways to stop Trump.
Milley and the other Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed a plan to quit one by one rather than carry out orders from Trump that they believed were unconstitutional, dangerous, or ill-advised, according to the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
“It was a kind of Saturday Night Massacre in reverse,” Leonnig and Rucker write.
“I Alone Can Fix It,” which will be released next Tuesday, examines Trump’s final year in office, including a behind-the-scenes look at how senior government officials and Trump’s inner circle dealt with his increasingly erratic conduct after losing the 2020 election. The authors spoke with Trump for over two hours.
For the first time in modern US history, the nation’s top military officer, whose job it is to advise the president, was preparing for a showdown with the commander in chief because he was afraid of a coup attempt after Trump’s electoral loss in November.
Milley’s growing concerns, according to the authors, that personnel moves at the Pentagon after the November 2020 election, such as the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, were a sign of something sinister to come, including the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, were a sign of something sinister to come.
Milley discussed the prospect of a coup with friends, MPs, and coworkers, and he felt he needed to be “on guard” for what might happen.
“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeed,” Milley told his deputies, according to the authors. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.”
Milley was concerned by Trump’s call to action in the days running up to January 6, according to Leonnig and Rucker. “Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military.”
According to the writers, Milley saw Trump as “the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,” and drew comparisons between Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric as a victim and savior and Trump’s phony allegations of election fraud.
“This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides, according to the book. “The gospel of the Führer.”
Milley told aides that he thought the pro-Trump “Million MAGA March” in November would “may be the current American version of ‘brownshirts in the streets,'” referring to the pro-Nazi militia that drove Hitler’s ascent to power.
For the book, Rucker and Leonnig interviewed around 140 people, the majority of whom were provided anonymity in order to talk openly and reconstruct events and dialogue. Milley is often referenced and comes across as a good figure who strove to save democracy after receiving a warning from an old friend one week after the election that it was on the verge of collapsing.
“What they are trying to do here is overturn the government,” said the friend, who is not named, according to the authors. “This is all real, man. You are one of the few guys who are standing between us and some really bad stuff.”
Milley’s reputation suffered a huge blow in June 2020, when he accompanied Trump to St. John’s Church for a dramatic photo-op after federal agents brutally dispersed a peaceful throng of social justice demonstrators outside the White House. Milley wore camouflage military fatigues during the encounter, which made problems worse.
“I should not have been there,” he later apologized.