Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had drafted a letter of resignation in June 2020 but never submitted it.
The letter was reprinted by the New Yorker as part of an excerpt from “The Divider: Trump in the White House,” the new book from Peter Baker and Susan Glasser.
In the draft, Milley accused Trump of using the military to “create fear in the minds of the people.” He also said the president was making “a concerted effort over time to politicize the United States military.”
“I cannot stand idly by and participate in that attack, verbally or otherwise, on the American people. The American people trust their military and they trust us to protect them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and our military will do just that. We will not turn our back on the American people,” he wrote.
According to Baker and Glasser, Milley considered resigning after he received criticism for walking with Trump across Lafayette Square after Black Lives Matter protesters left on June 1, 2020.
“As they walked, with the scent of tear gas still in the air, Milley realized that he should not be there and made his exit, quietly peeling off to his waiting black Chevy Suburban. But the damage was done,” they wrote.
Milley chose to stay after consulting several elected and military officials, including his predecessor as Joint Chiefs chairman, Joseph Dunford.
A few weeks later, Milley apologized for his appearance, saying “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
He had reportedly told his staff, “F*** it, I’ll just fight him,” when discussing Trump. “If they want to court-martial me, or put me in prison, have at it,” he added. “But I will fight from the inside.”
Baker and Glasser also wrote that Trump told then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly at one point, “You f***ing generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?” When asked which generals, Trump responded “The German generals in World War II”.
Kelly reportedly told Trump that Hitler’s generals tried to kill him on three separate occasions, but the president denied it, saying “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him.”
“You don’t understand what the war was all about. In fact, you subscribe to many of the principles that we fought against. And I cannot be a party to that. It is with deep regret that I hereby submit my letter of resignation,” Milley wrote in his letter.
“The Divider” is set to come out on Sept. 20 and will include recollections of conversations with Milley, Trump, and others.