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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."

Go deeper

Why Trump wants to tweet

Data: SocialFlow; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Donald Trump's post-office online engagement is hitting new lows, according to exclusive data from SocialFlow provided to Axios. It helps explain why the former president recently asked a federal judge to have Twitter restore his signature account.

Why it matters: Trump has tried press releases styled as tweets, launched his own "platform" and held campaign-style rallies, yet the numbers suggest his social media megaphone has no true replacement.

Stephanie Grisham says it was a mistake to work for Trump

Then-White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham and John Bolton, then-national security adviser, look on as then-President Trump participates in a meeting in 2019. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Trump aide Stephanie Grisham said in an interview with ABC on Monday that it was a mistake to serve in the previous administration.

The big picture: Grisham's new tell-all book about her years working in the White House is out Tuesday. Grisham served as White House press secretary and communications director for former President Trump, and also as former first lady Melania Trump's chief of staff.

Judge: Trump must give deposition in Summer Zervos suit before Christmas

Summer Zervos (right), a former contestant on "The Apprentice," arrives with lawyer Gloria Allred at the New York County Criminal Court in December 2017 in New York. Photo: Kena E. Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump must submit to a deposition before Christmas for a defamation lawsuit filed by former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos, a New York state court ruled Monday.

Why it matters: This would mark the first time that Trump would have to answer questions in court under oath since he took office in 2017.