Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley was deeply shaken with fears that former President Trump would “go rogue” in launching a military strike or nuclear weapons against China that he single-handedly took secret action, acting twice by making secret backchannel calls to his Chinese counterpart to prevent it, according to excerpts from a new book.
“Peril,” an upcoming book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward and The Washington Post’s Robert Costa about the final days of Trump’s presidency, wrote that Milley assumed that Trump “had gone into a serious mental decline” in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and feared that the former president was in a “manic” state in going “rogue,” called a secret meeting with senior military officials in charge of the National Military Command Center and instructed them not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved.
“You never know what a president’s trigger point is,” Milley told the senior staff, according to a CNN report.
The book also revealed that Milley was “fearful” that Trump would do something similar to Adolf Hilter’s “Reichstag Fire” with an attack on China to help the former president remain in power. Taking matters into his own hand, Milley had two secret backchannel phone calls with China’s top general, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, assuring his “rattled” Chinese counterpart that the United States was not planning to attack.
In the days leading up to the 2020 election, the book revealed the first call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, where Milley went so far in committing an act of treason by promising Li that if Trump did order an attack against China, he would automatically alert his Chinese counterpart in advance, saying “it’s not going to be a surprise.” General Li and China President Xi Jinping at that time were on high alert over intelligence that suggested the Chinese believed America was preparing to attack, based on tensions of its military exercises they conducted in the South China Sea along with Trump’s combative rhetoric towards the communists’ nation.
In the second call following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Milley called Li to convince the Chinese general that the U.S government was “100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.” However, even after the half an hour call, Milley concluded that the situation was “grave” and General Li “remained unusually rattled,” according to the book account.
After his phone call with Li, Milley later on the same day received “a blunt phone call” from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), during which the top general tried to reassure her that the nuclear weapons were safe. Pelosi had previously confirmed that she spoke with the general just days after the Jan. 6 events, telling her caucus in a letter that she has gotten assurances from Milley about guardrails in place that could prevent “an unstable president” from wielding the military or the country’s nuclear arsenal.
“What I’m saying to you is that if they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?” Pelosi told Milley, according to Woodward and Costa, who exclusively obtained a transcript of the call.
“He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy,” Pelosi added, with Milley responding, “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.”
“Peril,” the third book Woodward has written on the Trump presidency, is based on more than 200 interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses, recounts behind-the-scenes moments, and includes exclusive reporting on the events leading up to the events of Jan. 6 and Trump’s reaction. Both authors obtained documents, calendars, diaries, emails, meeting notes, transcripts, and other records.
A flurry of political books written about the final days of the Trump presidency also detailed the hostile relationship Trump and Milley had in the last year. In the book “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” which recently came out in July, author Michael Bender wrote how Milley unloaded on Trump on how to handle the riots that broke out over unrest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer. Both men erupted in a shouting, profanity-filled confrontation when Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act and wanted to designate Milley as “in charge” of the government’s response, a role the top general refused to take.
In another book released at the same time Bender’s book came out, “I Alone Can Fix It,” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker, Milley was shaken by reports that Trump and his allies might attempt a coup or take other dangerous or illegal measures after the November election that he mobilized other Joint Chiefs to informally plan a different route to stop the former president in the final days of Trump’s presidency.
“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeeds,” Milley told his deputies, according to the Rucker and Leonnig’s book. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.”
In a statement shortly after the story broke of different excerpts from the upcoming book, Trump first cast doubt of the story, calling it “fabricated,” but said if the story was true, “dumbass” Milley should be tried for treason.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called on Biden to immediately fire Milley, writing in a letter the “dangers posed by senior military officers leaking classified information on U.S. military operations” undermine a president’s “ability to negotiate and leverage one of this nation’s instruments of national power in his interactions with foreign nations.”
“Peril” is scheduled to be released next Tuesday.