In the days, weeks, and months following Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, you didn’t have to be Freud to notice that the lame-duck president wasn’t ready to relinquish power—and would stop at nothing to try and keep his tiny orange hands on the nuclear button. But as New York Magazine notes, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley was actually so concerned by Trump’s unpredictable behavior and attempts at power-grabbing that he issued a warning to his colleagues that the 45th president of the United States was starting to sound an awful lot like Adolf Hitler.
The story comes courtesy of a new book, I Alone Can Fix It, co-penned by Washington Post colleagues Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. The book recounts how just days ahead of the January 6th Capitol riots, Milley was concerned about the potential threat Trump posed to our democracy and warned that the president seemed to be right at the edge of his own “Reichstag moment.”
According to the book, Milley received a call one week after the 2020 election from an “old friend” who sought to warn him that the MAGA faction was attempting to “overturn the government.” Initially, Milley dismissed the claim, telling his aides, “They may try, but they’re not going to f*cking succeed. You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with guns.” But as Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day loomed closer, and Trump’s repeated attempts to actually, yep, overturn the election kept failing, Milley became a bit more concerned. As Ben Jacobs writes for New York:
Still, Milley was disturbed by the sight of Trump supporters rallying to his cause in November, calling them “Brownshirts in the streets.” Leonnig and Rucker wrote that Milley “believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military.” The general likened the U.S. to Germany’s fragile Weimar Republic in the early 1930s. “This is a Reichstag moment,” he said, referring to the arson attack on Germany’s Parliament that Hitler used as a pretext to assume absolute power and destroy democracy.
On January 6, Milley watched with disgust as Trump addressed his supporters. Soon after Trump finished speaking, a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the presidential election by a joint session of Congress—and many promised to return for Biden’s inauguration. “These guys are Nazis, they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II,” Milley said a week after the attack on the Capitol.
Following Biden’s inauguration, and the official ousting of Trump from the White House, former First Lady Michelle Obama apparently asked Milley how he was feeling about the change in leadership. “No one has a bigger smile today than I do,” Milley told her.
I Alone Can Fix It will be released on July 20, 2021.
(Via New York Magazine)