Donald Trump has lashed out at General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, after several new books recounted how the top-ranking military official worried the former US president would try to stage a coup during his final days in the White House.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Milley feared a “Reichstag moment” and compared Trump to Adolf Hitler as Trump refused to acknowledge the results of November’s presidential election, according the book I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J Trump’s Catastrophic Last Year, written by two of the newspaper’s reporters.
“This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley reportedly told aides, adding: “The gospel of the Führer,” according to the book, which claimed that top brass worried the outgoing president would try to stage a coup to prevent Joe Biden from taking office.
Trump on Thursday released a blistering statement through his Save America political action committee, lambasting Milley and denying any attempt to stage a coup.
“If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is Gen Mark Milley,” the former US president said. A spokesperson for Milley declined to comment.
The reports come days after excerpts from a separate book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender, detailed a shouting match between Milley and Trump over the president’s handing of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Milley walked with Trump across Lafayette Square in June last year after police forcibly cleared the area opposite the White House of protesters. The general, who wore fatigues as he accompanied the president for Trump’s photo opportunity with a Bible outside St John’s Episcopal Church across from the park, later apologised, saying his participation had been a “mistake”.
The former president said he “lost respect” for the top US military officer after the walk to the church, saying Milley “choked like a dog in front of the fake news when they told him they thought he should not have been walking with the president”.
“I saw at that moment he had no courage or skill, certainly not the type of person I would be talking ‘coup’ with,” Trump added. “I’m not into coups!”
Trump has sought to reassert himself on the national political stage after being banned from all major social media platforms in the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, when mobs of his supporters interrupted the certification of Biden’s victory in a violent clash that left five people dead.
Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for his role in the attack, and later acquitted following a Senate trial in which only seven Republican senators joined Democrats in voting to convict.
Trump, who held a “comeback” rally in Ohio last month and last weekend headlined a conservative conference in Texas, has not ruled out running for president again in 2024.
Additional reporting by James Politi in Washington