How General Milley Averted Catastrophe when an Unstable Trump Threatened our Republic

“For more than 200 years, the assumption in this country was that we would have a stable person as president,. . . . .That this assumption did not hold true during the Trump administration presented a “unique challenge” for Milley.”

Before Milley, no Joint Chiefs chairman had been forced to deal with a president who’d attempted to foment a coup in order to remain illegally in office.

The Atlantic

Shortly after the assault on the Capitol on January 6, Pelosi, who was then the speaker of the House, called Milley to ask if the nation’s nuclear weapons were secure. “He’s crazy,” she said of Trump. “You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time. So don’t say you don’t know what his state of mind is.” 

Soon after talking with Pelosi, “chairman called all of America’s top nuclear officers to a meeting, in which he said, “If anything weird or crazy happens, just make sure we all know.” He then asked each officer to affirm that he understood the proper procedures. for the release of nuclear weapons. He also called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that America was not in the kind of chaos that could lead to war.” ( The Atlantic )

“Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, considered Trump to be a “fucking moron.” John Kelly, the retired Marine general who served as Trump’s chief of staff in 2017 and 2018, has said that Trump is the “most flawed person” he’s ever met. James Mattis, who is also a retired Marine general and served as Trump’s first secretary of defense, has told friends and colleagues that the 45th president was “more dangerous than anyone could ever imagine.” It is widely known that Trump’s second secretary of defense, Mark Esper, believed that the president didn’t understand his own duties, much less the oath that officers swear to the Constitution, or military ethics, or the history of America.”

In the crucial period after his road-to-Damascus conversion,[his name for his mistake of being seen at Trump’s Lafayette Square debacle] Milley set several goals for himself: keep the U.S. out of reckless, unnecessary wars overseas; maintain the military’s integrity, and his own; and prevent the administration from using the military against the American people. He told uniformed and civilian officials that the military would play no part in any attempt by Trump to illegally remain in office.

The desire on the part of Trump and his loyalists to utilize the Insurrection Act was unabating. Stephen Miller, the Trump adviser whom Milley is said to have called “Rasputin,” was vociferous on this point. Less than a week after George Floyd was murdered, Miller told Trump in an Oval Office meeting, “Mr. President, they are burning America down. Antifa, Black Lives Matter—they’re burning it down. You have an insurrection on your hands. Barbarians are at the gate.”

According to Woodward and Costa in Peril, Milley responded, “Shut the fuck up, Steve.” Then he turned to Trump. “Mr. President, they are not burning it down.”

 In The Divider, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser write that Milley believed that Trump was “shameful,” and “complicit” in the January 6 attack. They also reported that Milley feared that Trump’s “ ‘Hitler-like’ embrace of the big lie about the election would prompt the president to seek out a ‘Reichstag moment.’

See the full profile in The Atlantic See Washington Post See Mediate