Trump: I'm not into coups, but if I was, I sure wouldn't do one with Mark Milley

Shealah Craighead/The White House via AP

Today’s one of those days when I have to remind myself that, in spite of everything that’s happened since Election Day and everything that’s come out about what went on behind the scenes after November 3, he remains one of the two most likely people in America to be president in 2025.


Possibly the favorite if Biden doesn’t run again.

A new book by two WaPo reporters claims that Joint Chiefs chairman Mark Milley, a Trump appointee, grew nervous after the election that Trump would try something nutty to cling to power, a reasonable belief given the president’s daily insistence that he’d been cheated out of a victory. He’d already crossed lines that no modern president had crossed, encouraging state legislatures to overturn their election results on a pretense of fraud and cheerleading Texas’s lawsuit to have the results of swing states won by Biden tossed out. If he was willing to go that far, he might reach a state of such desperation to avert defeat that he’d take the final step and order the military to back his claims that he won. That’s what Milley was worried about. And why wouldn’t he be when Trumpers like Mike Flynn were calling for “limited martial law” and Mike Lindell was seen at the White House just days before Biden’s inauguration with notes describing how a coup might play out?

Others were worried too. I can’t find the piece at the moment but I remember reading not long after Trump left office that liberal activist organizers had discouraged demonstrations supporting Biden after the election for fear that Trump would use the gatherings as a pretext to invoke the Insurrection Act and try to put American cities under military control. No demonstrations meant no pretext. Trump was already so far beyond the bounds of proper presidential conduct following a defeat that even people who protest for a living thought it was more important to try to defuse the bomb in the White House than take to the streets and risk setting it off.


He issued a statement this morning in response to news reports about the WaPo book insisting that he’s “not into coups,” and in any case would never coordinate one with a chump like Mark Milley who regretted accompanying Trump for his big Bible photo op in front of the church after Lafayette Park was cleared last summer.

He didn’t list all of his grievances with Milley there. Another new book, this one by a Wall Street Journal reporter, claims Trump wanted Milley to send in the military last summer to confront rioters. And not just for crowd control either:

“That’s how you’re supposed to handle these people,” Trump told his top law enforcement and military officials, according to Bender. “Crack their skulls!”

Trump also told his team that he wanted the military to go in and “beat the f–k out” of the civil rights protesters, Bender writes.

“Just shoot them,” Trump said on multiple occasions inside the Oval Office, according to the excerpts.

When Milley and then-Attorney General William Barr would push back, Trump toned it down, but only slightly, Bender adds.

“Well, shoot them in the leg—or maybe the foot,” Trump said. “But be hard on them!”

Go figure that Milley was anxious about how Trump would handle the prospect of handing over power to Biden. The account in the WaPo book is vivid:


“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeed,” Milley told his deputies [about the prospect of a coup], 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.”

A possible “Reichstag moment,” according to his own appointed Joint Chiefs chairman. Allegedly Milley and the other Joint Chiefs even had a plan in which they would resign sequentially, one by one, if Trump ordered them to carry out a power grab on his behalf. At one point Milley had to reassure Pelosi that the military would be able to stop Trump if he tried to use nuclear weapons.


Meanwhile Trump’s leading the 2024 GOP primary field by a country mile.

He hasn’t lost his knack for colorful viral commentary in (temporary?) retirement, I’ll say that for him:

I assume Milley is one of the garbage stars he means. Him, Mattis, John Kelly — there sure are a lot of four-stars who got a good look close-up at the former president after being promoted by him and came away nervous about what they saw.

Which reminds me: Is Milley going to be a witness for the January 6 select committee? His conversations with Trump might be subject to executive privilege but a lot of the details above about planning for a possible coup attempt took place without the president in the room. There’s no reason why Milley can’t testify to that, particularly since Trump is no longer his commander-in-chief. Imagine the spectacle of the sitting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff telling Congress under oath that the Pentagon’s top priority this past January was protecting the country from subversion led by the president rather than attack from foreign states.

I’ll leave you with one last excerpt from the book, something that Liz Cheney allegedly said to Milley about the insurrection on January 6. She’s a member of the select committee so maybe they’ll get to discuss this on the record when he testifies.


“That f—— guy Jim Jordan. That son of a bitch. … While these maniacs are going through the place, I’m standing in the aisle and he said, ‘We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.’ I smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You f—— did this,’” Cheney reportedly told the general.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos