Did Trump suddenly go into a psychological slide in 2020 that made him more dangerous than before? No. It was obvious to anyone watching closely that he would rather burn down the house after the 2020 presidential election than acknowledge defeat. He warned of electoral fraud before the 2016 election, too, and he continues peddling the same myth today. It’s utterly predictable, because he doesn’t change. People supporting him or advising him who may have thought otherwise were kidding themselves.
The risks that the country, the rule of law and our institutions still confront stems from that reality. The Republican Party continues to embrace and foment Trumpism. Much could still go wrong. And we can’t rely on military leaders going rogue to protect us from rogue presidents.
Milley certainly had other reasons apart from Trump’s mental state to be worried. The excerpts note that intelligence reports indicated Chinese leaders were wary of a random strike, and Milley worried that their fears might prompt them to lash out. Milley had similar concerns about Trump’s posture toward Iran. The general also was an unhappy cast member in Trump’s infamous stroll through Lafayette Square during protests in Washington in June 2020. That episode forced him to assure confidantes that “we’re not going to turn our guns on the American people and we’re not going to have a ‘Wag the Dog’ scenario overseas.”