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Trump barred by generals from ordering nuclear strike or military attack in final days, Woodward says

Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

“Wouldn’t it be fun if you could do it?” Trump asked Pence, according to the book.

“No, it’s not possible,” Pence replied, as crowds of Trump supporters chanted outside in preparation for the violent attack on the Capitol the next day.

“No, no, no. You can do this,” the then-president retorted angrily. “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”

It was not immediately clear how the authors obtained the quotes of the closed doors spat between Trump and Pence.

The book also says Pence called former Vice President Dan Quayle for advice about whether he had any wiggle room to bow to Trump’s demands.

Quayle, a fellow staunch conservative from Indiana, told Pence to move on.

“Mike, you have no flexibility on this,” Quayle told Pence. “None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away.”

Things got even more chaotic in the days after the Capitol riot and Trump became more unpredictable.


Pelosi was so concerned about Trump’s mental health that she started making calls to top military brass to enlist their support for unprecedented checks on his presidential power to order military strikes, including nuclear strikes.

Trump had already ousted officials deemed insufficiently loyal like Attorney General Bill Bar and Defense Secretary Mark Esper and had installed unflinching loyalists in mid-level posts.

When Pelosi called Milley on Jan. 8, he told her he had taken precautions to prevent Trump from starting a conflict, even though there is no evidence he planned to do so. Milley did not inform Trump of the new protocol, which required generals to inform him before implementing presidential orders.

“I can guarantee you 110% that the military, use of military power, whether it’s nuclear or a strike in a foreign country of any kind, we’re not going to do anything illegal or crazy,” he said.

“What do you mean, illegal or crazy?” Pelosi asked.

“The best I can do is give you my word,” Milley said. “I’m going to prevent anything like that in the United States military.”

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