Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen Mark Milley repeatedly pushed back against former President Donald Trump and other White House officials’ calls for the US military to violently intervene in widespread protests that unfolded last year in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, a new book has claimed.
In excerpts obtained by CNN ofWall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender’s new book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, the top US general is described as having been the sole voice of opposition to demands for the military to intervene amid civil unrest.
According to Mr Bender, Mr Trump told top law enforcement and military officials: “That’s how you’re supposed to handle these people... Crack their skulls!”
Mr Trump also reportedly told his team he wanted the military to “beat the f*** out” of protesters and “just shoot them”.
When Mr Milley and then-Attorney General William Barr would push back on the calls for violence, Mr Bender said Mr Trump would tone it down – but only slightly.
In one case, Mr Bender claimed Mr Milley told senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller to “shut the f*** up” as the adviser proclaimed that “cities were burning” as he equated the scenes unfolding on his television screen to those in third-countries and to war zones.
According to the WSJ reporter, Mr Milley, who had commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, spun around in his seat and pointed a finger at Mr Miller, exclaiming: “Shut the f***, Stephen”.
Mr Milley made headlines earlier this week for defending the military academy’s teaching critical race theory, asserting that “a lot of us have to get much smarter on whatever the theory is”.
The top US general made the comments while testifying publicly before the House armed Services Committee on Wednesday, saying: “I want to understand White rage. And I’m White. And I want to understand it.”
Invoking the 6 January insurrection that saw rioters, including many Trump supporters, storm the US Capitol Building, Mr Milley said: “What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out.”
“I want to maintain an open mind here,” he said.
He said it was “offensive” that service members were being called “quote, ‘woke’ or something else, because we’re studying some theories that are out there.”