The general feared that Mr Trump would use the conflict to stay in office
The exchange is detailed in an upcoming book by The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser and The New York Times’ Peter Baker next year. The pair interviewed nearly 200 people about Mr Trump’s time in the White House.
The book claims that Gen Milley repeatedly cautioned Mr Trump against provoking Iran, warning him that taking action against the nation – particularly after the 2020 election.
The authors claim that Iran was a frequently discussed topic in White House meeting in the aftermath of the election. Mr Trump was reportedly “willing to do anything to stay in power”.
Mr Trump’s interest in launching a military strike on Iran’s primary nuclear site was the subject of a November New York Times story and appears to have been the culmination of these meetings. Ultimately, Mr Trump was talked out of launching the strike.
According to the book, a meeting that did not involve Mr Trump occurred in which his officials were contemplating attacking the country. Gen Milley allegedly asked “why they were so intent on attacking the country”.
Former Vice President Mike Pence reportedly replied “because they are evil”.
Three days before the Capitol riot, Mr Trump apparently participated in a meeting to discuss the latest nuclear activities in Iran. Gen Milley; Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly advised that attacking Iran was not an option.
Mr Trump apparently finally got the message and stopped considering a potential strike.
Gen Milley envisioned two “nightmare scenarios” that Mr Trump would enact as a means to stay in power. The first was by deploying the military to “prevent the legitimate, peaceful transfer of power”. The second was to create an external crisis by striking Iran, allowing Mr Trump to declare emergency powers and stay in power in the event of a war.
Gen Milley told his aides it was Mr Trump’s “Reichstag moment,” comparing the threat to Adolf Hitler’s strategy of creating a crisis to seize power.
Mr Trump has responded to the allegations that he was planning a coup by saying he “never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government”.
“If I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley,” Mr Trump said. The former president has issued a blanket denial on the myriad books that are being published on his administration, even though Mr Trump sat for interviews for many of the projects.
During his time in office, Mr Trump heightened tensions with Iran, primarily through his 2015 decision to rescind the Iran nuclear deal. His administration also enacted harsh new economic sanctions against the nation with the hopes it would force Iran to accept a more restrictive nuclear deal. That strategy ultimately failed.
Following the sanctions, Mr Trump approved of an airstrike that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani. That move nearly set off a war between the countries. Ultimately, Iran responded by launching a military strike against US troops in Iraq that injured dozens. Tensions de-escalated following the retaliatory attack, though the relationship between the US and Iran remain rocky at best.