Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley was ecstatic on President Joe Biden’s inauguration day after spending months worried former President Donald Trump might try to orchestrate a coup.
‘No one has a bigger smile today than I do,’ he told former first lady Michelle Obama, according to a new book. ‘You can’t see it under my mask, but I do.’
Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker captured the scene in their forthcoming book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley (left) expressed to former first lady Michelle Obama (right) that, ‘No one has a bigger smile today than I do,’ after President Joe Biden was sworn in. ‘You can’t see it under my mask, but I do’
Milley (left), seen with Obama (center left) and Bill and Hillary Clinton (right) at Biden’s inauguration, was worried for months that former President Donald Trump would attempt a coup after he lost the election to his Democratic rival
The claims were made in a new book due out next week titled I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year
CNN obtained an early copy.
After Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn-in, Harris took a moment to thank Milley.
‘We all know what you and some others did,’ she said, according to the authors. ‘Thank you.’
Milley, in his own words to the authors, expressed relief there had not been a coup.
‘Thank God Almighty, we landed the ship safely,’ Milley said.
Milley had been worried Trump would initiate a war against Iran after he lost the November election Biden as a ploy to stay in power, according to a report.
Milley thought that the United States came ‘very close’ to a full-blown military conflict with Iran.
He feared Trump would start a war with Iran as a pretext to remain in power even after Biden was declared the lawful winner, according to The New Yorker.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Trump’s office seeking comment.
According to The New Yorker, Milley was concerned about two possible scenarios.
He was worried Trump would either seek ‘to use the military on the streets of America to prevent the legitimate, peaceful transfer of power’ or that the lame duck president would set in motion a chain of events that would lead to a full-blown crisis.
After Biden was declared the winner, Milley had daily conference calls with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
The general was so concerned about what Trump was up to that he viewed the daily meetings as a way to keep tabs on the president.
In the days and weeks after the election, Trump is said to have repeatedly raised the topic of striking Iran. The image above shows Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran on June 4
Milley is reported to have told staff members that he viewed those phone calls as ‘land the plane’ calls since ‘both engines are out, the landing gear are stuck, we’re in an emergency situation.’
‘Our job is to land this plane safely and to do a peaceful transfer of power the 20th of January,’ Milley is quoted as saying by The New Yorker.
Throughout 2020, Milley was reportedly fearful of what Trump might do.
He laid out a four-point plan: make sure the US didn’t engage in unnecessary wars overseas; prevent US troops from being used on the streets of America against the American people; maintain the military’s integrity; and maintain his own integrity.
After the election, Milley was said to have been horrified to hear that Trump would not accept the outcome.
So he met with the Joint Chiefs and devised a plan whereby each of them would resign one by one if Trump issued any unlawful orders, according to The New Yorker.
Milley also reportedly made it clear to senior members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who then held the title of majority leader, that Trump would not succeed in using the military to stay in power unlawfully.
Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so convinced that Trump would attempt a coup after his election loss to Joe Biden that he and other senior generals made plans to stop him, according to a new book. Milley is seen left with Trump at the Army-Navy college football game in Philadelphia in December 2018
‘Our loyalty is to the US Constitution,’ Milley reportedly told them, adding ‘we are not going to be involved in politics.’
While Trump was claiming the election was stolen, he and his aides also reportedly raised the possibility of launching strikes against Iran in response to provocations.
Milley repeatedly urged Trump not to attack Iran, fearing it would lead to war, The New Yorker reported.
Trump was being encouraged to attack Iran by hawkish anti-Iran advisers as well as by Israel’s then-prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
In early January, when Trump suggested a missile strike against Iran, Milley pushed back, warning: ‘If you do this, you’re gonna have a f***ing war.’
On January 3, Trump returned to the White House after spending the Christmas break at Mar-a-Lago.
He held a meeting in the Oval Office with Pompeo and then-National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.
The two aides told Trump that it was too late to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.
Milley echoed those sentiments, telling Trump what the potential costs would be of carrying out such an attack.
Trump agreed, and the issue was dropped.
At the end of the meeting, Trump asked Milley and acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller if they were ready for the ‘wild’ rally that was scheduled for January 6.
‘It’s gonna be a big deal,’ Milley reportedly heard Trump say.
‘You’re ready for that, right?’
Three days later, Trump’s supporters ransacked the US Capitol.
The report surfaced a day after an explosive excerpt from a forthcoming book about the Trump presidency describes how Milley was concerned the outgoing leader would attempt a coup in the days and weeks after the election.
Milley reportedly referred to Trump supporters as ‘brownshirts’ and compared the former president to Hitler. The image above shows Trump supporters rioting at the US Capitol on January 6
The former president insisted on Thursday that he wouldn’t have used the military to illegally seize control of the government after his election loss.
But he suggested that if he had tried to carry out a coup, it wouldn’t have been with Milley, his top military adviser.
In a lengthy statement, Trump responded to revelations in a new book detailing fears from Milley that the outgoing president would stage a coup during his final weeks in office.
Trump said he’s ‘not into coups’ and ‘never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government.’
‘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 said.
‘He got his job only because the world’s most overrated general, James Mattis, could not stand him, had no respect for him, and would not recommend him. To me the fact that Mattis didn’t like him, just like Obama didn’t like him and actually fired Milley, was a good thing, not a bad thing,’ Trump also said. ‘I often act counter to people’s advice who I don’t respect.’
His comment about a coup was in response to new reporting from I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
The book reports that Milley was shaken by Trump’s refusal to concede in the weeks after the election.
According to early excerpts published by CNN and the Post on Wednesday ahead of its release, Milley was so concerned that Trump or his allies might try to use the military to remain in power that he and other top officials strategized about how they might block him – even hatching a plan to resign, one by one.
Milley also reportedly compared Trump’s rhetoric to Adolf Hitler’s during his rise to power.
‘This is a Reichstag moment,’ Milley reportedly told aides. ‘The gospel of the Führer.’
Milley’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
THE 1933 REICHSTAG FIRE: A KEY TURNING POINT IN GERMANY’S DEMOCRATIC DECLINE
The February 27, 1933 file photo above shows the Reichstag building, Germany’s parliament, on fire. It is considered a key turning point in the Nazi rise to power
The German Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933 remains a pivotal moment in world history.
That arson blaze ignited one of history’s ugliest stories of a fragile democracy gone tragically bad – and its generational consequences.
Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazis, elected Germany’s dominant party six months earlier, had exploited the fire – which he claimed was set by a half-blind, disabled, Dutch communist bricklayer – to transform Germany into a militarized dictatorship.
This set in motion the Third Reich, World War II, the Holocaust, the destruction of Europe and the deaths of 60 million people, 2.5 percent of the global population.
In 2008, German prosecutors formally overturned the conviction of the Dutch communist who was executed after the Nazis accused him of torching the Reichstag parliament building.
Marinus van der Lubbe, a bricklayer, was convicted of arson and high treason in December 1933 and executed on January 10, 1934.
Historians still debate whether van der Lubbe, a communist, actually set the fire, which came just a month after Hitler’s rise to power and was followed by the suspension of civil liberties.
Some believe the Nazis set it themselves to give Hitler an excuse for his crackdown against what he termed a ‘communist conspiracy.’
Van der Lubbe was the only defendant convicted of arson at the subsequent trial.
Four other communists charged with him were acquitted by a Leipzig court.
Federal prosecutors said his conviction was overturned because the death sentence resulted from measures introduced under the Nazis ‘that were created to implement the National Socialist regime and enabled breaches of basic conceptions of justice.’
But Milley has previously spoken out against drawing the military into politics, especially after coming under fire for joining Trump on a walk through Lafayette Square for a photo-op at St. John’s church shortly after the square had been violently cleared of protesters.
Trump, in the statement, mocked Milley’s response to that moment, saying it helped him realize that his top military adviser was ‘certainly not the type of person I would be talking “coup” with.’
‘In any event, I lost respect for Milley when we walked together to St. John’s Church (which was still smoldering from a Radical Left fire set the day before), side by side, a walk that has now been proven to be totally appropriate – and the following day Milley choked like a dog in front of the Fake News when they told him they thought he should not have been walking with the President, which turned out to be incorrect,’ Trump said in the statement.
Milley apologized publicly for walking with Trump through Lafayette Park for the president’s infamous Bible photo-op.
‘My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the involved in domestic politics,’ he said following the June 1, 2020 incident.
The book is one of a long list being released in the coming weeks examining the chaotic final days of the Trump administration, the January 6 insurrection and the outgoing president’s refusal to accept the election’s outcome.
Another excerpt in the book describes a conversation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Milley. After the Capitol riot, Pelosi told Milley she was worried that Trump was ‘crazy,’ ‘dangerous,’ and a ‘maniac’
Trump sat for hours of interviews with many of the authors, but has issued a flurry of statements in recent days disputing their reporting and criticizing former staff for participating.
The authors also reported that weeks before the election, Pompeo visited Milley at home and told him: ‘You know the crazies are taking over.’
Pompeo denied making the remark, according to the authors.
Another excerpt in the book describes a conversation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Milley.
After the Capitol riot, Pelosi told Milley she was worried that Trump was ‘crazy,’ ‘dangerous,’ and a ‘maniac.’
After Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Pelosi reportedly told Milley: ‘We are all trusting you. Remember your oath.’
The speaker reportedly expressed concern that Trump would deploy nuclear weapons in a desperate attempt to stay in power.
Milley tried to reassure the speaker.
‘Ma’am, I guarantee you these processes are very good,’ the general told her.
‘There’s not going to be an accidental firing of nuclear weapons.’
Pelosi then asked: ‘How can you guarantee me?’
‘Ma’am, there’s a process,’ Milley replied. ‘We will only follow legal orders. We’ll only do things that are legal, ethical, and moral.’
‘You’re surrounded by total incompetence. Hang in there’: Friend warned Milley about trouble on election night
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley received a warning about what could be a bumpy transition from a retired military buddy on election night 2020 as returns were coming in.
The friend called and told Milley: ‘You are an island unto yourself right now. You are not tethered. Your loyalty is to the Constitution. You represent the stability of the republic,’ according to the book.
‘There’s fourth-rate people at the Pentagon. And you have fifth-rate people at the White House. You’re surrounded by total incompetence. Hang in there. Hang tough,’ the friend said.
Milley was watching the election returns from his home at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia.
They wrote that he ‘memorialized the night by keeping his own scorecard of states in his journal.’
And around 10:30 p.m. he received the call.
Earlier in the day, Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and other officials were briefed about security concerns around the nation, including that if Trump won 10,000 to 15,000 Americans could take to the streets in Washington, D.C. to protest.
Esper – who had been on the chopping block with Trump since June when he refused to use the Insurrection Act on Black Lives Matter protesters – also viewed his potential firing as a security threat.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley received a warning call from a military buddy on election night telling him that he was ‘surrounded by total incompetence,’ a new book said
Leonnig and Rucker wrote in the book that Esper had NBC’s Courtney Kube kill a story that said he was preparing to be fired by Trump the day after the election.
The story was to also detail Esper’s efforts to help lawmakers on Capitol Hill rename Confederate-named military bases, something that Trump had campaigned against.
Esper feared if it was published before the election, it would trigger a premature firing.
‘He was worried about what Trump might try to do with the military if he were not at the helm,’ Rucker and Leonnig wrote. ‘Esper warned Kube that publishing her story could result in a more compliant acting secretary of defense, which could have worrisome repercussions.’
The story was held.
The authors also detail what happened at the White House on election night.
For one, an inebriated Rudy Giuliani advised Trump to ‘just say we won’ when Michigan and Pennsylvania hadn’t yet been called.
Trump had invited nearly 400 people to the White House for an election night gathering – one that Melania Trump had wanted cancelled – and Giuliani, along with his son Andrew, a Trump aide, were set up on a laptop watching vote tallies in the Map Room.
‘After a while, Rudy Giuliani started to cause a commotion,’ Leonnig and Rucker wrote. ‘He was telling other guests that he had come up with a strategy for Trump and was trying to get into the president’s private quarters to tell him about it.’
‘Some people thought Giuliani may have been drinking too much,’ the authors went on, adding that Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien was pushed to go talk to the former New York City mayor.
Stepien, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Trump spokesman Jason Miller took Giuliani to a room off the Map Room to hear the so-called strategy.
Giuliani then asked the state of play in certain swing states.
He asked about Michigan.
Trump’s advisers said it was too early to tell.
‘Just say we won,’ Giuliani suggested.
The Trump lawyer then asked about Pennsylvania and got the same response.
‘Just say we won Pennsylvania,’ Giuliani said.
The strategy, the authors wrote, was just announcing that Trump had won states before they were called.
Meadows, Stepien and Miller pushed back.
‘We can’t do that,’ said Meadows. ‘We can’t.’
After Arizona was called by Fox News in favor of now President Joe Biden – a move that produced shockwaves through the White House that night – Giuliani pushed Trump to take his advice.
Rudy Giuliani advised then President Donald Trump on election night to ‘just say we won’ when key states like Michigan and Pennsylvania hadn’t been called yet – and later when Arizona was called for his rival, now President Joe Biden, a new book claims
‘Just go declare victory right now,’ Giuliani told the president. ‘You’ve got to go declare victory now.’
Trump listened, telling the waiting crowd, ‘Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election,’ while the actual results of the election, which Biden won, took days to tabulate.
Michigan and Pennsylvania both went blue for Biden.
The authors described Trump’s campaign aides being ‘infuriated’ by Giuliani’s advice.
‘It’s hard to be the responsible parent when there’s a cool uncle around taking the kid to the movies and driving him around in a Corvette,’ one said. ‘When we say the president can’t say that, being responsible is not the easiest place to be when you’ve got people telling the president what he wants to hear.’
‘It’s hard to tell the president no. It’s not an enviable place to be,’ the adviser added.
Especially because Trump believed in the run-up to election night that he would win a second term.
He had just come off a whirlwind tour of the swing states where he attracted large crowds, who had voyaged out to see the president despite the coronavirus risks.
Biden refused to hold large rallies due to the COVID-19 threat, so there was no apples-to-apples comparison.
Florida, Trump’s adopted home state, and a place where the campaign had spent a lot of energy attracting Latino supporters, looked good early on – and Trump would win that swing state.
It was the midwest, Georgia and Arizona that were more problematic.
Trump had also ignored Stepien when he told the president ‘it’s going to be good early.’
Stepien had explained to Trump that he could be up after polls closed, but then see leads get whittled away as mail-in ballots, more likely being used by Democratic voters, were counted.
When Trump saw the numbers change, he suggested something was amiss.
‘Why are they still counting votes?’ Trump asked, according to the authors. ‘The election’s closed. Are they counting ballots that came in afterward? What the hell is going on?’
A spokesman denied that Trump ever said this.
Trump told adviser Kellyanne Conway that something ‘nefarious was at play,’ the authors wrote.
‘They’re stealing this from us,’ Trump said. ‘We have this thing won. I won in a landslide and they’re taking it back.’
Trump’s early proclamation of victory and his paranoia over ballots laid the groundwork for what would be called ‘the big lie.’
The book I Alone Can Fix It details how Rudy Giuliani, pictured in New York in June, told Trump advisers and then Trump that the president should just say he won Michigan and Pennsylvania and later the entire election, once Arizona was called for Biden
The authors wrote that Trump ‘seemed to truly believe he had been winning.’
Polls had long predicted that Biden would win the White House after Trump’s disastrous response to the coronavirus crisis.
But Trump was reacting to, as one adviser put it, ‘The psychological impact of, he’s going to win, people were calling him saying he’s going to win.’
‘And then somehow these votes just keep showing up,’ the aide told the authors.
Leonnig and Rucker’s book is one of a handful of books about the end of the Trump’s time in office that will arrive in bookstores in January.
Last week, Trump preemptively pushed back on the new books.
‘It seems to me that meeting with authors of the ridiculous number of books being written about my very successful administration, or me, is a total waste of time,’ said Trump in a statement sent by his political action committee.
‘They write whatever they want to write anyway without sources, fact-checking, or asking whether or not an event is true or false.’