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New book says Joint Chiefs chairman worried Trump would attempt a coup

In the days after the November presidential election, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was concerned about what Donald Trump might do in order to stay in power, and discussed with other leaders how to block Trump should he order the military to do something dangerous or illegal, according to the new book I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year.

The book, out next Tuesday, is by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. They interviewed more than 140 people for I Alone Can Fix It, including senior Trump administration officials and advisers. 

Leonnig and Rucker write that Milley, the highest-ranking military officer in the United States, would listen to Trump rant and rave, falsely claiming that the election was rigged, and it left him with a "stomach-churning" feeling. At one point, Milley told aides, "This is a Reichstag moment, the gospel of the Führer," referring to the 1933 attack on Germany's parliament building, which Adolf Hitler used to establish the Nazi dictatorship.

Just days after the election, on Nov. 10, a worried Milley called former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to see if he believed a coup was close at hand, asking, "What the f—k am I dealing with?" He knew there were Trump allies installed in the Department of Defense, CIA, and FBI, and the book says that Milley told his close deputies that they might try to sway those agencies, "but they're not going to f—king succeed."

Milley was contacted by several lawmakers and even administration officials who were worried about Trump using the military to stay in office, and he reassured them that "we're going to land this plane safely." One phone call came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the book says, who shared that she was worried "maniac" Trump would use a nuclear weapon. "Ma'am, I guarantee you that we have checks and balances in the system," Milley responded.

After the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Milley made it clear during logistical meetings to discuss President Biden's inauguration that they would "put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren't getting in," Leonnig and Rucker write, and when he was finally at the event, sitting behind the Obamas, Milley was able to relax. Former first lady Michelle Obama asked Milley how he was feeling, and he replied, "No one has a bigger smile today than I do. You can't see it under my mask, but I do."