The Pentagon’s top general feared late last year that then-president Donald Trump would suspend the constitution to retain power in a move resembling Adolf Hitler’s 1933 Reichstag takeover, according to a new book.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley saw Trump’s refusal to accept defeat to Joe Biden in the November election as a possible sign that he intended to retain power by any means, according to excerpts from the book by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker that were reported by the Post and CNN Thursday.
“This is a Reichstag moment… The gospel of the Fuhrer,” Milley told Pentagon aides, the authors report.
In 1933 Hitler took advantage of a suspicious fire at the Reichstag, the German parliament, to suspend civil liberties and concentrate authority in his government, setting the stage for the Nazi consolidation of power.
When Trump called for a march on Washington by supporters in November, Milley, who had been appointed by Trump, expressed worries that he was deploying “brownshirts in the streets,” the book says, referring to Hitler’s violent followers.
And as Trump persisted in claiming, with no evidence, that he was cheated from a second term by fraud and planned another rally on January 6 — when his followers attacked the Congress — Milley schemed with other top officials to resign, one by one, to signal that they would not go along with any coup by the outgoing president.
“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeed,” Milley told his aides, the book recounts.
“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,” he said.
The book, “I Alone Can Fix It,” due for release next week, offers the most disturbing insight yet into how Trump’s refusal to accept his election defeat was seen inside the government.
Milley had already earlier in the year resisted Trump’s desire to call out regular troops to confront Black Lives Matter protests in multiple cities.
That left him highly suspicious of Trump’s motivations, especially after the election, when Trump began replacing top officials, including at the Pentagon, with close loyalists even though he only had weeks left in office.
“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,” the book says.
In a statement Trump repeated his unfounded claims about election fraud but denied threatening a coup.
He derided Milley as someone seeking favor with the “radical left.”
“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 said.