The book, from Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, describes how Milley and the other Joint Chiefs discussed a plan to resign, one-by-one, rather than carry out orders from Trump that they considered to be illegal, dangerous or ill-advised.
The book recounts how for the first time in modern US history the nation’s top military officer, whose role is to advise the president, was preparing for a showdown with the commander in chief because he feared a coup attempt after Trump lost the November election.
The authors explain Milley’s growing concerns that personnel moves that put Trump acolytes in positions of power at the Pentagon after the November 2020 election, including the firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, were the sign of something sinister to come.
Milley spoke to friends, lawmakers and colleagues about the threat of a coup, and the Joint Chiefs chairman felt he had to be “on guard” for what might come.
“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.”
In the days leading up to January 6, Leonnig and Rucker write, Milley was worried about Trump’s call to action. “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.”
Milley viewed Trump as “the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose,” the authors write, and he saw parallels between Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric as a victim and savior and Trump’s false claims of election fraud.
“This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides, according to the book. “The gospel of the Führer.”
Milley will not publicly address the issues raised in the book, a defense official close to the general told CNN. The official did not dispute that Milley engaged in activities and communications that are not part of the traditional portfolio of a chairman in the final days of Trump’s presidency.
“He’s not going to sit in silence while people try to use the military against Americans,” the official said. So while Milley “tried his hardest to actively stay out of politics,” if the events that occurred brought him into that arena temporarily, “so be it,” the official said.
The official added that the general was not calling Trump a Nazi but felt he had no choice but to respond given his concerns that the rhetoric used by the President and his supporters could lead to such an environment.
Trump on Thursday issued a lengthy statement attacking Milley.
“I never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government,” Trump wrote in his statement, adding, “So ridiculous!”
“Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of ‘coup,’ and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley,” Trump continued.
‘This is all real, man’
Rucker and Leonnig interviewed more than 140 sources for the book, though most were given anonymity to speak candidly to reconstruct events and dialogue. Milley is quoted extensively and comes off in a positive light as someone who tried to keep democracy alive because he believed it was on the brink of collapse after receiving a warning one week after the election from an old friend.
“What they are trying to do here is overturn the government,” said the friend, who is not named, according to the…