The last days of Donald Trump’s presidency were definitely quite turbulent, but a new look at the secrets of the White House and the Pentagon from the Washington Post and Bob Costa’s book “Peril” shows that the situation inside is she was even more tense.
According to the authors of the book, based on more than 200 interviews with participants and witnesses of the events covered, the Chief of Staff of the US Army Gen. Mark Millie (virtually the highest-ranking military man under Trump) has himself taken covert action to limit the president’s ability to launch a military strike or launch a nuclear weapon.
Millie’s actions come just two days after the attack on the Congress building by Trump supporters, and the authors of the book claim that the general was deeply shaken by what happened on January 6, 2021. Moreover, he was deeply concerned about the behavior itself of the head of state after his loss in the presidential election and believed that Trump had fallen into a “serious mental breakdown.”
Testimonies quoted in Peril suggest that during this period, Trump behaved almost maniacally, shouted at his employees and built his own alternate reality, in which he was surrounded on all sides by conspiracies aimed at taking his presidency. .
Gen. Mark Millie
Gen. Millie was worried about the president’s decision to act dramatically in the last days of his term, forcing him to take certain precautions.
One of the chiefs of staff’s concerns was that Trump could go to war with China, and his concerns were so great that he had two secret telephone conversations with General Li Zocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, in which he assured him. that the United States has no intention of launching an attack on China.
In these talks, the first of which took place on October 30, 2020, Millie assured that US forces are not preparing for a strike against Beijing, and even if such a trigger is he will personally warn so as not to be a surprise attack. .
The general also had a confidential conversation with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and Woodward and Costa received a transcript of their conversation. According to the printout, Pelosi asked Millie what precautions had been put in place to prevent an “unstable president” from carrying out a nuclear strike.
“He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy,” Pelosi told the general, who said, “I agree with you on everything.”
According to the authors of the book, it was after this call that Millie convened a secret meeting at her Pentagon office on January 8 to review the processes of declaring hostilities and firing nuclear weapons.
Senior military officials in charge of the National Military Command Center and the Pentagon’s Military Room were summoned to the meeting, and Millie instructed them not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved.
The general was adamant that it was up to them to follow the procedures, and further insisted that he himself was part of those procedures.
The book’s authors also point out that Millie compared Trump to a “classic authoritarian leader who has nothing to lose,” warning that the president’s actions could lead to some major action comparable to the burning of the Reichstag in Germany in 1933. with which the Nazis managed to occupy all power.
Millie’s worries are at least somewhat justified, and according to the book, for months he has watched the whole country be mobilized for national security, without the citizens or the rest of the world knowing.
In addition, the general himself saw how immediately after the loss of the election, Trump issued a military order to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021 – something that would be virtually impossible to implement. The withdrawal was subsequently postponed to the beginning of Joe Biden’s term.
Then comes January 6 – the storming of the Congress building. According to Woodward and Costa, this event makes Millie feel the lack of absolute certainty that the military can control Trump’s actions, or trust him that he will not decide to act on his own.
According to the two journalists, senior officials in charge of national security management had serious concerns that the president could provoke a conflict on American soil or abroad to distract from the loss of the election and secure a lever to hold on. power for himself and not to hand over the post to Biden.
Even some of Trump’s most loyal advisers have expressed concern about him after the election. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, told Millie that Trump “is in a very dark place right now.”
The Peril states that the general’s only goal at the time was the peaceful transition of power from the old to the new administration.
“We have a four-engine plane and three of them are out of order. We have nowhere to land, but we will land with that plane and land safely,” Millie told Pompeo in the same quoted personal conversation.
The book also tells how it came about that Trump began to deny his election loss and talk about frauds that took away his victory.
On November 4, just after election night, he was ready to announce the loss and even asked his adviser, Kelian Conway, how it came about that they lost to Joe Biden. However, after talking with his lawyer and former New York mayor Rudolf Giuliani, Trump accepted the narrative of fraud and election theft.
Although his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, as well as Attorney General William Barr, tried to reason with the president, or at least distance themselves from this refusal to recognize the election, he continued in that direction. Steve Bannon, his leading White House adviser, played a major role in this campaign.
Throughout the period until January 6, Ivanka repeatedly tried to dissuade her father from fighting to the last and to test the limits of the law.
Peril is Bob Woodward’s third book on Donald Trump’s presidency after “Fear” in 2018 and “Rage” in 2020. In both of his previous books, he offers a rather sharp look at the former president’s administration. his undemocratic and rather controversial approach to power and his attitude towards allies and opponents.
Donald Trump himself has already welcomed publications about “Peril” and the actions of Gen. Millie commented that the former Chief of Staff of the US Army should be tried for treason if what Woodward and Costa wrote is true.
Trump still enjoys the support of many of his followers, who for months have been loudly denouncing people in the military for not working hard enough to fight “America’s enemies” and instead caring more for its political correctness.
Some Republicans close to the former president also said that according to the book, Gen. Mili is guilty of plotting a coup and complicity in treason, for which he must at least be fired, brought before a military court or even executed.
Analysts already predict that if Donald Trump manages to return to the presidency in the 2024 elections, as his current plans seem, a radical purge of the top of the army can be expected against those generals who do not show enough loyalty to him.
According to others, although the gene. If Mili had acted for security and peacekeeping reasons, his actions would only serve as a motivating factor for the far right and would strengthen the far wing of the Republican Party, creating another enemy to unite against.