Trump wanted US military leaders to be loyal, just like Nazi generals, new book says

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WASHINGTON -  An excerpt from the new book "The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021," authored by The New Yorker's Susan B. Glasser and the New York Times' Peter Baker, says former President Donald Trump wanted his national security team to be loyal to him, the way he thought German soldiers were loyal to Adolf Hitler.

"Why can't you be like the German generals?" Trump asked his chief of staff, John Kelly,who asked Trump to which generals he was referring.

"The German generals in World War II," Trump responded. Then Kelly said, "you do know that they tried to kill him three times and almost pulled it off?"

"No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him," Trump responded.

The excerpt, published Monday in the New Yorker, goes on to detail the frustrations of Trump's top military leaders. Here's a look at what else the book reveals about those relationships.

Gen. Mark Milley's condition for his job

When Gen. Mark Milley accepted Trump's offer to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he told Trump he would do whatever Trump asked of him and would back him, but with a condition, according to the book.

"I'll give you an honest answer on everything I can. And you're going to make the decisions, and as long they're legal I'll support it," the excerpt quotes Milley as saying in November 2018.

Why did Trump get frustrated with Milley, Barr and Esper?

Trump became frustrated with Milley and other aides because they would not submit to all he asked them to do.

One particular example is when Milley, Attorney General William Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper refused to send in the military as Trump asked to clear Black Lives Matter protesters at Lafayette Square, near the White House in June 2020.

It was then that Trump yelled at his top aides, "You are all losers! And he repeated that, including an expletive the second time.

According to the excerpt, Trump then turned to Milley and asked: "Can't you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?"

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In this Sept. 1, 2021, file photo Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington about the end of the war in Afghanistan.
In this Sept. 1, 2021, file photo Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a briefing at the Pentagon in Washington about the end of the war in Afghanistan.

Why Milley almost resigned

Milley drafted several resignation letters, according to the exceprt, after the National Guard violently forced Black Lives Matter protesters out of Lafayette Square park, so the way could be cleared for Trump's photo op holding a Bible in front of a church on June 1, 2020.

Milley drafted different letters to the former president, which were never sent, about why he was stepping down. One in particular was his "preferred version," the excerpt says, in which he accused Trump of doing "irreparable harm to his country.".

In the letter, Miley wrote, "the events of the last couple of weeks have caused me to do deep soul-searching, and I can no longer faithfully support and execute your orders as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," the book excerpt reads.

Milley was concerned that Trump was using the military to scare people.

"You are using the military to create fear in the minds of the people — and we are trying to protect the American people," Milley's letter stated.

"I cannot stand by idly by and participate in that attack, verbally or otherwise, on the American people," he wrote, according to the book.

Finally, Milley wrote that Trump was "ruining the international order, and causing significant damage to our country overseas ...," according to the excerpt.

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Why did Milley change his mind about resigning?

He later decided he would not resign, so he could stop Trump from starting a war abroad, and ensure the military was not used against American civilians again as a way to keep Trump in power. “I’ll just fight him," the excerpt has him saying.

Trump's military parade

After returning from a trip to France, which included a Bastille Day celebration including a military parade, Trump wanted a parade of his own.

But, he refused to have any injured veterans in his parade.

"Look, I don't want any wounded guys in the parade," Trump told Kelly, according to the book. "This doesn't look good for me," he was referring to the Bastille Day parade that he went to in France, where there were wounded soldiers.

The book said Kelly was in disbelief about what Trump was telling him, in which he told the former president,

"Those are the heroes," he continued, "In our society, there's only one group of people who are more heroic than they are – and they are buried over in Arlington," the book said.

Baker and Glasser wrote that "Kelly did not mention his own son Robert, a lieutenant killed in action in Afghanistan, was among the dead interred there."

"I don't want them," Trump said. "It doesn't look good for me." And he repeated that sentiment.

When does the book come out?

It will be released on Sept. 20.

President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally on Nov. 2, 2020, in Fayetteville, NC.
President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally on Nov. 2, 2020, in Fayetteville, NC.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump wanted his national security team to 'totally loyal' like Nazis