General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was deeply worried that then-President Donald Trump would refuse to leave the White House and warned colleagues he was afraid the man would try to use the military to stay in office, according to book excerpts published o Wednesday.
Milley, the nation’s top military officer, also compared Trump’s actions to the rise of Adolf Hitler, saying he viewed the president as a “classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose” after Democratic rival Joe Biden won the 2020 election by more than 7 million votes, CNN and The Washington Post reported.
“This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides in the days leading up to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. “The gospel of the Führer.”
The excerpts are from the forthcoming book I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year written by Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, which is due out July 20. It chronicles the former president’s final year in office and includes several revelations about the chaotic waning days of his tenure. The pair said they interviewed more than 140 people, many of whom had requested anonymity so they could speak candidly about their experiences.
The Post, which obtained an advance copy of the book, said Milley was concerned after the November 2020 election as he listened to Trump spread lies about the results, echoing his public sentiments, backed by no evidence, that widespread voter fraud had cost him reelection to a second term.
Milley, the authors write, spoke with national security adviser H.R. McMaster to discuss if a coup was actually imminent and express concern about the Trump administration’s efforts to install administration-friendly officials throughout the government.
“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeed,” Milley told his deputies, the book says, according to CNN. “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.”
The book also says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Milley shortly after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, describing Trump as a “maniac” and saying she was concerned about the president’s access to the nuclear codes in his final days in office.
“Ma’am, I guarantee you these processes are very good,” Milley replied, according to the Post’s excerpt. “There’s not going to be an accidental firing of nuclear weapons.”
Milley himself drew controversy in June 2020 during the widely criticised photo-op at a church near the White House shortly after federal law enforcement cleared a peaceful crowd of protesters by using tear gas. The general joined Trump outside while wearing his military fatigues, although he later apologised and said he shouldn’t have been there.