Jun 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump's Situation Room shouting match

Trump and Mark Milley

President Trump and Gen. Mark Milley in 2019. Photo: Ron Sachs/CNP via Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, repeatedly blew up at President Trump over how to handle last summer's racial-justice protests, The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender writes in his forthcoming book, "Frankly, We Did Win This Election."

The backdrop: Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act and put Milley in charge of a scorched-earth military campaign to suppress protests that had spiraled into riots in several cities.

Milley — now a GOP villain for his testimony last week on critical race theory — pushed back, Bender writes in a passage Axios is reporting for the first time:

Seated in the Situation Room with [Attorney General Bill] Barr, Milley, and [Secretary of Defense Mark] Esper, Trump exaggerated claims about the violence and alarmed officials ... by announcing he’d just put Milley "in charge."
Privately, Milley confronted Trump about his role. He was an adviser, and not in command. But Trump had had enough.
 "I said you're in f---ing charge!" Trump shouted at him.
 "Well, I'm not in charge!" Milley yelled back. 
"You can't f---ing talk to me like that!" Trump said. ...
 "Goddamnit," Milley said to others. "There's a room full of lawyers here. Will someone inform him of my legal responsibilities?"
"He's right, Mr. President," Barr said. "The general is right."

Asked for a response, Trump told Axios through an aide: "This is totally fake news, it never ever happened. I'm not a fan of Gen. Milley, but I never had an argument with him and the whole thing is false. He never talked back to me. Michael Bender never asked me about it and it's totally fake news."

  • Trump later added: "If Gen. Milley had yelled at me, I would have fired him."

Bender then told Axios: "This exchange was confirmed by multiple senior administration officials during the course of hundreds of hours of interviews with dozens of top Trump World aides for this book."

  • "Contrary to Mr. Trump’s assertion, I asked the former president for his side of this particular argument in a written question — as he requested — along with other queries included in my thorough fact-checking process. He did not reply.”

A spokesman for Milley declined to comment.

P.S. At Trump's Ohio rally on Saturday night, he attacked Milley without naming him: "You see these generals lately on television? They are woke."

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