Former President Donald Trump attacked Gen. Mark Milley again on Thursday, this time over new reports that the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to prevent Trump from perpetrating a government takeover reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
In a more than 400-word statement issued from his post-presidential office, Trump denied that he had ever “threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government,” calling the notion “So ridiculous!”
“Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of ‘coup,’” Trump said, “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.”
The statement from the former president came after excerpts published this week of a forthcoming book by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker stated that Milley had compared Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election to “the gospel of the Führer.”
According to Leonnig and Rucker’s reporting, Milley described Trump’s persistent efforts to reverse the results of the White House race as “a Reichstag moment” — referring to the 1933 attack on Germany’s parliament building that Adolf Hitler used as a pretext to cement Nazi rule.
The book also states that Milley was so alarmed by Trump’s bid to overturn the election that he and other military leaders began informally planning how they would block the then-president from using America’s armed forces in a way that could help him hold onto power.
On Thursday, Trump lashed out at Milley over the new reports, saying he named the four-star Army general as Joint Chiefs chair in 2018 “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,” Trump said, “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. I often act counter to people’s advice who I don’t respect.”
Trump’s statement that former President Barack Obama fired Milley is incorrect. It was Mattis whom Obama fired as head of U.S. Central Command in 2013, in large part because of Mattis’ increasingly hawkish posture toward Iran.
Mattis went on to serve as Trump’s first Defense secretary but resigned from the administration in 2018 in protest of the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria. Mattis initially refrained from criticizing Trump after leaving the Pentagon, but ultimately accused him of seeking “to divide” Americans and said the Jan. 6 insurrection “was fomented by Mr. Trump.”
Trump’s statement about Milley on Thursday marked the second public swipe the former president has taken at the nation’s top military officer in recent weeks. Last month, Trump called on Milley to resign after reports surfaced that the two men engaged in a shouting match in the Situation Room last summer over Trump’s plan to deal with Americans protesting racial injustice and police brutality.
Milley has also emerged as a frequent target of criticism from conservative commentators and Republican congressional lawmakers who were angered by the Joint Chiefs chair’s testimony on Capitol Hill last month regarding the Pentagon’s efforts to combat racism and extremism in the ranks.
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