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New book reveals Gen. Mark Milley sought to 'fight' his commander in chief

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In an August 8 New Yorker piece drawing from Peter Baker's and Susan Glasser's forthcoming book "The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recounts how he penned a resignation letter addressed to then-President Donald J. Trump shortly after the BLM riots — which injured over 50 Secret Service agents — were dispersed outside the White House in June 2020.

In the letter, which Milley ultimately scrapped, he allegedly wrote: "I regret to inform you that I intend to resign as your Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ... The events of the last couple weeks have caused me to do deep soul-searching, and I can no longer faithfully support and execute your orders as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is my belief that you were doing great and irreparable harm to my country."

In one of alleged multiple drafts of the resignation letter, dated June 8, Milley insinuated that Trump "subscribe[d] to many of the principles that we fought against" in World War I and in World War II.

Despite suggesting that Trump was dictatorial and an extremist, Milley never submitted his resignation. He spoke instead to political contacts "including members of Congress and former officials from the Bush and Obama Administrations."

Former Secretary of Defense and CIA chief Robert Gates is quoted as having told Milley: "Keep the chiefs on board with you and make it clear to the White House that if you go they all go, so that the White House knows ... this is about the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff quitting in response."

Milley ultimately decided he would not quit and told his staff, "I'll just fight him."

Qualifying Trump's agenda, including withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Germany, and Africa, as "damage," he determined to prevent the president from realizing his goals. "If they want to court-martial me, or put me in prison, have at it," Milley is quoted as having told his staff, adding: "But I will fight from the inside."

Just as Milley had telegraphed his intention not to execute possible orders from the president regarding action against America's Chinese communist adversaries, he similarly notified Democrats "that he would not go along with any further efforts by the president to deploy the machinery of war for domestic political ends."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer were among those he so notified.

According to Baker and Glasser, "[Former Defense Secretary Mark] Esper and Milley found new purpose in waiting out the President. They resisted him throughout the summer."

This book preview suggests that Milley, unelected, then all but set American foreign and domestic policy, having assigned himself four goals, including: "First, make sure Trump did not start an unnecessary war overseas. Second, make sure the military was not used in the streets. ... Third, maintain the military's integrity."

Declan Leary suggested that these revelations amount to more evidence that Milley nearly mounted a military coup.

When Bob Woodward's and Robert Costa's book "Peril" was first published, alleging that Milley offered his Chinese communist counterpart reassurances, legal scholar Jonathan Turley underlined on September 19, 2021, how "in a system based on civilian control of the military, there can be no blurring of the lines of authority. Good intentions are no defense."

In his reflection on Milley's conduct, Turley invoked Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice on mutiny or sedition, which reads: "(a) Any person subject to this chapter who — (1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concern with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny; ... (3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition."

Attorney Will Chamberlain also thinks Milley overstepped and recommends a court martial.

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