A top military adviser in the Trump administration secretly moved to prevent the former president from potentially going “rogue” and launching nuclear weapons, according to Peril, a new book by Bob Woodward and Washington Post reporter Robert Costa.
CNN reported the book’s bombshell reveal on Tuesday, saying that Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley took action “singlehandedly” after the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol.
Milley observed Trump’s erratic behavior—“screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies,” according to Woodward and Costa—and feared the president’s “serious mental decline.”
“You never know what a president’s trigger point is,” Milley reportedly told his senior staff. He worried Trump could “go rogue.”
After a phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the wake of the Capitol riots, Milley took what he believed to be a “good faith precaution” and ordered his service chiefs to watch everything “all the time.” According to Peril, he was “overseeing the mobilization of America's national security state without the knowledge of the American people or the rest of the world.”
On Jan. 8, Milley called senior military officials into his office at the Pentagon to review the process of ordering strikes, including those involving nuclear weapons. Milley went around the room, verbally confirming with each officer they understood that they were not to take orders from anyone unless he, Milley, was involved in the process.
According to The Washington Post, on that same day, Milley also made the second of two phone calls to his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, to reassure him the United States would not attack. “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable,” Milley said, according to a transcript, “and everything is going to be okay.”
Milley’s first call to Li was made in October the previous year, and was based on intelligence that China had been rattled by recent American military exercises in the South China Sea, as well as Trump’s antagonizing rhetoric.
Peril, which is set to be released next week, is based on interviews with over 200 unnamed sources. (Notably, however, both Trump and President Joe Biden declined to speak with Woodward and Costa.)
During her call with the general, the book details, Pelosi demanded to know what precautions Milley would take to prevent Trump from utilizing nuclear launch codes. Pelosi said, “You know [Trump’s] crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.”
Milley reportedly responded, “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.”