This week the public was treated (subjected?) to a veritable deluge of insurrection-related stories, courtesy of yet another new book that details the waning days of the Trump presidency — particularly the events of Jan. 6. The narrative of that day, as crafted by veteran journalists Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig in their forthcoming tome I Alone Can Fix It, is somehow both shocking and unsurprising. It describes a president too callous, distracted, self-satisfied, and egotistical to care that his followers had breached the halls of Congress, intent on lynching everyone from high-ranking Democrats to Republican senators to Vice President Mike Pence himself. In an excerpt published by The Washington Post on Thursday, the chaos inside the Capitol that day is framed as being matched only by the chaos among the president's aides and military advisers, who were scrambling to address the snowballing coup attempt while the commander-in-chief watched television.
As he's described in the excerpt, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spent the day drawing comparisons between Trump's bombastic post-election rhetoric and that of Adolf Hitler during the rise of Nazisim:
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff already had been on edge. A student of history, Milley saw Trump as a classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose. He described to aides that he kept having a stomach-churning feeling that some of the worrisome early stages of 20th-century fascism in Germany were replaying in 21st-century America. He saw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric about election fraud and Adolf Hitler’s insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallies that he was both a victim and their savior. "This is a Reichstag moment," Milley told aides. "The gospel of the Führer."
The Post's publication of its segment of the book comes just one day after CNN ran its own account of the events described therein, in which Milley allegedly worried that Trump was going to actively foment a full-blown coup.
"They may try, but they're not going to fucking succeed," Milley reportedly told his aides and officers. "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."
This is all extremely unnerving, both for its depiction of how seriously those members of the president's inner circle were taking the threat of insurrection, as well for the implied conclusion that, were the circumstances only slightly different, Trump could have actually succeeded. Of course, to hear Trump tell it, he was never ever ever ever interested in a coup, and even if he had been, it wouldn't have been with some no good loser schmuck like, uh, the nation's top military officer.
"Sorry to inform you, but an election is my form of 'coup,'" Trump announced in a lengthy press release Thursday. "If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is Gen. Mark Milley."
Whew, what a relief! Trump continued:
I lost respect for Milley when we walked together to St. John’s Church (which was still smoldering from a Radical Left fire set the day before), side by side, a walk that has now been proven to be totally appropriate — and the following day Milley choked like a dog in front of the fake ews when they told him they thought he should not have been walking with the president, which turned out to be incorrect. He apologized profusely, making it a big story, instead of saying I am proud to walk with and protect the president of the United States. Had he said that, it would have all been over, no big deal, but I saw at that moment he had no courage or skill, certainly not the type of person I would be talking "coup" with. I'm not into coups!
You see, the problem with doing a coup with a four-star general who commanded the 1st Battalion's 506th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, and the 2nd Brigade's 10th Mountain Division, and served as the deputy commanding general for 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the commanding general for the 10th Mountain Division, the commanding general for the III Corps, and the commanding general for U.S. Army Forces Command — the problem here is clearly that Milley is a coward with no skill.
And besides, Trump's not "into coups" anyway! But if he were ... well, I guess we'll never know.