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  • A top US general likened Trump to Hitler over his lies about the 2020 election, a new book says.

  • He was concerned that Trump was stoking unrest as an excuse to deploy combat troops.

  • “These are the same people we fought in World War II,” Milley reportedly said after the Jan. 6 riot.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results put him in the same camp as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, according to a new book by two Washington Post reporters, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. 

Milley said Trump spread “the gospel of the Führer” via his lies about the 2020 election, and compared the former president’s supporters to “Brownshirts in the streets,” according quotes attributed to the general in an excerpt of the book, “I Alone Can Fix It,” which was first reported on by New York Magazine on Wednesday. The Brownshirts were a violent paramilitary organization that played a central role in Hitler’s rise to power by threatening those who opposed him, gaining their name from the color of the uniforms they wore. 

The US Army general was concerned that Trump was deliberately provoking unrest in order to potentially find an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy the military domestically, Leonnig and Rucker wrote.

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Milley, who was appointed by Trump as chairman of the Joint Chiefs in 2018, was told by an old friend not long after Election Day that the president and his allies were planning to “overturn the government.” The top US general reportedly told aides that he thought this was unlikely to succeed.

“They may try, but they’re not going to f—ing succeed,” Milley said, per the book. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with guns.”

Not long before the fatal insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, Milley said Trump was pushing the US toward the verge of having its own “Reichstag moment,” the book said. The general was seemingly referring to an infamous incident in 1933 in which the German Parliament was deliberately set ablaze – an event that Hitler exploited to consolidate power and destroy Germany’s flimsy democracy at the time.

A week after the January 6 riot, Milley excoriated the pro-Trump insurrectionists, according to the book. “These guys are Nazis, they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II,” he reportedly said. The book said that Milley during President Joe Biden’s inauguration told former First Lady Michelle Obama that no one had a “bigger smile” that day than him. 

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. It’s unclear if the comments attributed to Milley were on-the-record to the authors, or if they were relayed via people he had spoken to. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the president’s top military advisor and in that capacity generally avoids making politically charged statements in public as part of the US government’s tradition of civilian leadership of the military.  

Milley was widely criticized last summer after walking alongside Trump while in uniform as the president headed to a church for a photo-op after protestors nearby were dispersed with tear gas. The Pentagon’s top general apologized not long after, stating that it was inappropriate for him to be there. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” Milley said.

More recently, Milley has been the target of right-wing criticism after he defended the military’s teaching of critical race theory – a subject that has been habitually misrepresented by conservatives in recent months as part of a broader backlash to efforts to combat racism in the US. Milley in late June slammed GOP lawmakers who characterized the military as “woke” for attempting to teach personnel about the history of racism in the country they serve. 

Though Trump once said he only hires the “best people” and in 2019 called Milley an “incredible officer,” the ex-president recently called for the general to be fired. This came after reports emerged that Milley challenged Trump on his approach to anti-racism protests last summer, prompting a profanity-laced dispute in the Situation Room. Trump denied that this heated argument occurred, even as he called for Milley to be pushed out.

The former president in late June said Milley should be “replaced with someone who is actually willing to defend our military from the leftist radicals who hate our country and flag.”

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who served as Pentagon chief under Trump from July 2019 to November 2020, defended Milley against the former president’s attacks. 

“Personal attacks on GEN Mark Milley and calls for him to resign are completely unwarranted,” Esper said in a tweet. “He is an officer and person of impeccable integrity and professionalism.”

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