Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley was frightened, shortly after the November presidential election, about the potential for defeated President Donald Trump to order a military coup to stay in power while the rest of the country was focused on securing a peaceful transition to President Joe Biden’s administration.

After the election, Milley thought about a possible collapse of America’s democratic values, according to Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker’s new book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year, which will be out next Tuesday. It provides new unsettling details regarding Trump’s final days in office and is based on interviews with more than 140 sources for their book, including many senior officials and advisers for Trump.

According to the book, Milley saw parallels between Trump and Adolf Hitler. He deemed Trump as “the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,” as the authors write. Hitler’s presentation of himself as a victim and savior compared, in Milley’s eyes, to Trump claiming to save America from Democratic Socialists who seemed to facilitate election fraud and “brainwash” the public. Trump’s fall into conspiracy theories and his feeding them to his base was worrying to the general.

Milley told aides: “This is a Reichstag moment. The gospel of the Führer.” He referred to the 1933 attack on Germany’s parliament building that Hitler chose to use as an example of societal disorder to further his objective to establish Nazi rule.


A week of political news in your in-box.
We find the news you need to know, so you don't have to.

Milley added: “This could be the modern American equivalent of ‘brownshirts in the streets.’” That allusion was addressed to the pro-Nazi militia that preceded Hitler’s takeover. He used it to describe the pro-Trump rally, called the “Million MAGA March,” which was to follow the November election.

He had then contacted the former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and consulted with him about whether or not he, too, felt that a coup was possible. Milley asked him: “What the f—k am I dealing with?” He was aware that the Department of Defense, CIA, and FBI had Trump allies on his side that could make Trump’s, even if potentially illegal, orders possible, but Milley was concentrating on not letting them “f—king succeed.”

To a worried Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi, who said that she felt that Trump might use nuclear weapons to overthrow the election, Milley said: “Ma’am, I guarantee you that we have checks and balances in the system.”

Following the January 6 Capitol riots, Milley also made sure to protect everyone who participated in the inauguration several weeks later.

A defense official close to Milley said that the general will not comment on these revealing excerpts from the book. However, there has been no dispute that Milley did engage in activities to prevent what he thought would have been a coup.

Milley’s own reputation has been under scrutiny too in the past year. In June 2020, he was criticized for joining Trump for a controversial photo-op at St. John’s Church after federal forces were seen dispersing a crowd of social justice protesters at Lafayette Square just outside the White House. He later apologized and said that “I should not have been there.” 

On Thursday, Trump released a more than 400-word statement from his post-presidential office. There, he wrote that claims that he ever planned a coup were “so ridiculous.” He said that if he were ever to decide to stage a coup, he would never want to do it with Milley.

Read more about:

Get the free uPolitics mobile app for the latest political news and videos

iPhone Android

Leave a comment