Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley held secret meetings and discussions with top military leaders and his Chinese counterpart to protect against a nuclear weapons launch from a “rogue” President Donald Trump, according to a new book.
The tome, “Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa, claims that two days after the Jan. 6 riot, Milley “single-handedly took top-secret action to limit Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons,” CNN reported Tuesday.
The authors say that Milley, who was unsettled by the breach of the Capitol, “was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.”
Subsequently, Milley reportedly worried that Trump may “go rogue,” which did not happen, as Trump left office on Jan. 20, as the Constitution required, though he did not attend the swearing-in of his predecessor, Joe Biden.
The book claims that Milley told senior Pentagon staff, “You never know what a president’s trigger point is.”
In response, Milley took extraordinary action, and called a secret meeting in his Pentagon office on January 8 to review the process for military action, including launching nuclear weapons. Speaking to senior military officials in charge of the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon’s war room, Milley instructed them not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved.
“No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure,” Milley reported told senior staff as he then sought an acknowledgment of understanding from each of them.
“Milley considered it an oath,” the authors wrote.
The book is based on some 200 interviews of witnesses, some of whom reportedly were on hand for many of the claims made therein. It “recounts behind-the-scenes moments of a commander-in-chief unhinged and explosive, yelling at senior advisers and aides as he desperately sought to cling to power,” CNN noted.
In addition, the authors note, Milley was in contact with his Chinese counterpart, having made at least two “backchannel” phone calls following the Capitol breach due to the “extraordinary risk” to U.S. national security it allegedly posed.
But also, Milley was in consultation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who called him to inquire about the nuclear codes.
According to a transcript of the call, which the authors say they obtained exclusively, Milley attempted to reassure Pelosi that the nukes were safe, but she supposedly pressed the Joint Chiefs chairman.
“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?” she said, according to the transcript.
“You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time,” she added.
“Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything,” Milley reportedly said in response.
But Milley was still concerned about Trump, so he continued working behind the scenes — and without the permission of the commander-in-chief, Trump — to supervise “the mobilization of America’s national security state without the knowledge of the American people or the rest of the world,” the authors wrote.
The went on to say that “some might contend that Milley had overstepped his authority and taken extraordinary power for himself,” but the four-star general reckoned his actions were “a good faith precaution to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.”
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