Speed Reads

Don't Know Much about History....

Trump reportedly complained his generals weren't 'totally loyal' like 'the German generals in World War II'

Former President Donald Trump had a contentious relationship with U.S. military leadership and a shallow grasp of military values and 20th century history, according to an excerpt of a new book, The Divider, published Monday in The New Yorker. One of the more memorable anecdotes veteran reporters Peter Baker and Susan Glasser recount in their book involves a conversation Trump had with his chief of staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general. 

"You f---ing generals, why can't you be like the German generals?" Trump reportedly asked Kelly. When Kelly asked which generals he meant, Trump said, "The German generals in World War II," the book recounts. Kelly asked Trump, "You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?" And Trump apparently didn't believe him, responding, "No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him."

"That's right," Trevor Noah laughed on Monday's Daily Show. "Fox News was out there everyday, like, 'These liberals are so over-the-top, always comparing Trump to Hitler!' Meanwhile, Trump was going, 'Why won't people treat me more like Hitler?'"

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2019, also had concerns about Trump's views on fascism, Baker and Glasser report. In an unsent draft resignation letter Milley wrote after Trump used the military to clear Lafayette Square of protesters for a photo op on June 1, 2020, the general told Trump he believed he was "doing great an irreparable harm" to the country, making "a concerted effort over time to politicize the United States military," and "using the military to create fear in the minds of the people."

"It's now obvious to me," Milley wrote to Trump, that "you don't understand" what World War II "was all about," and "in fact, you subscribe to many of the principles that we fought against. And I cannot be a party to that." In the end, Milley decided to stay on and try to stop Trump from doing more damage, Baker and Glasser reports. "I'll just fight him," Milley reportedly told his staff. "If they want to court-martial me, or put me in prison, have at it."

You can read Milley's entire draft resignation letter, plus more excerpts from The Divider, at The New Yorker, and watch retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling explain why that letter is so extraordinary on CNN.