Then-President Donald Trump blew up at Gen. Mark Milley during a heated confrontation amid Black Lives Matter protests last year, with Trump eventually yelling: “You can’t fucking talk to me that way,” according to the latest excerpt of a provocative new book.
The two men went at it in a tense meeting in the Situation Room after Trump made “exaggerated claims about the violence and alarmed officials” by saying he’d put Milley in charge of countering the protests, according to the excerpt obtained by Axios from “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.”
In a separate Oval Office meeting, Trump had told the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that he wanted the military to “beat the fuck out of” Black Lives Matters protesters “or shoot them,” according to an earlier excerpt obtained by CNN. When Milley objected, Trump responded: “Well, shoot them in the leg ― or maybe the foot,” reported author and Wall Street Journal reporter Michael C. Bender.
In the Situation Room, Trump told then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr that he had put Milley in charge of handling the protesters. But Milley reportedly explained to Trump that as commander in chief, the president was the one in charge and that he served only as an adviser.
″‘I said you’re in fucking charge!’ Trump shouted at him,” according to the book excerpt.
When Milley yelled back: “I’m not in charge!” Trump snapped: “You can’t fucking talk to me like that,” Bender wrote.
″‘Goddamnit,’ Milley said to the others. ‘There’s a room full of lawyers here. Will someone inform him of my legal responsibilities?’” Bender wrote.
″‘He’s right, Mr. President,’ Barr said. ‘The general is right.’”
Trump, through an aide, denied the account to Axios, calling it “totally fake news.” He said he “never had an argument with Milley” and that the general “never talked back to me.” Trump added later: “If Gen. Milley had yelled at me, I would have fired him.”
Bender told Axios that “multiple senior administration officials” confirmed the confrontation and that Trump never replied to the writer’s request for his version of this incident.
Trump criticized U.S. military leaders at his Ohio rally on Saturday. “You see these generals lately on television? They are woke.”
Milley did not respond to Axios’s request for comment.
As for Black Lives Matter protesters, Trump played videos of police “getting physical” with them to administration officials and told them he wanted to see more of that, according to Bender’s book.
“That’s how you’re supposed to handle these people,” Bender wrote, saying Trump told top law enforcement and military officials: “Crack their skulls!”
Trump reportedly considered using the Insurrection Act to mobilize troops to put down protests. White House aides even drafted a proclamation to invoke the act, The New York Times reported Friday, but Trump never moved on it.
Check out the full Axios excerpt here.