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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 Political News

Former President Donald Trump was secretly stripped of his power to order nuclear strikes or launch military actions by top military brass in his final chaotic days in the White House, according to journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s forthcoming book, “Peril.”

The two veteran Washington Post reporters offer dramatic new details about Trump’s frantic effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and stay in power.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took the unprecedented action of ordering other top generals to consult him before implementing any significant orders by Trump following the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The revelations about Milley’s actions were first reported by CNN.

“There’s no telling what he could do. You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Milley during a frantic Jan. 8 call about Trump’s mental standing.

“I agree with you on everything,” Milley responded, according to a transcript of the call.

Milley also called his Chinese counterpart Gen. Li Zuocheng twice to reassure him that there was no danger of a strike or other unpredictable military action in Trump’s final days in office.

“We are 100% steady. Everything’s fine,” Milley told Gen. Li. "But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

It includes new details about Trump’s effort to bully Vice President Mike Pence into blocking Congress from certifying the election of President Joe Biden in what is supposed to be a ceremonial action on Jan. 6.

The book reports that the mercurial Trump lost his temper during a last-ditch effort on the night of Jan. 5 to convince Pence to take his side, and the vice president insisted that he had a constitutional obligation to preside over Congress.

“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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