While none of what we're hearing this week is a surprise, just the sheer volume of information about Trump that confirms he really was as bad as we thought he was is... depressing. I mean, I don't think any of us wanted Trump to be this monstrous and self-interested -- but he was. And our mainstream media did a piss-poor job of making that case while it mattered.
Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference after five years of Trump yelling "Fake news!" Maybe. But they should have tried. Instead, they were making book deals and it seems they were holding onto the juicy parts for their books.
"New this morning, it wasn't just a coup that General Mark Milley feared. It was the possibility that the former president would start a full-blown war with Iran in hopes of having it help him stay in office after losing the election," John Berman said on CNN this morning as he introduced New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser.
Glasser was working on a book with her husband, NYT reporter Peter Baker.
"In the process of reporting your book, you discovered not only was General Mark Milley, who has been in the news a lot, concerned about the idea of this coup and stopping the president from sort of launching a coup after the election, but concern that he would somehow push it too far with Iran and start a war. This is a quote from your upcoming book, your reporting here an article you put in the New Yorker. 'Milley was worried Trump might set in motion a full-scale conflict not justified. 'If you do this, you're going to have an f*cking war,' Milley would say. Talk to us about the concerns with iran."
"Again and again, this would come up in meetings in the Oval Office after the election, and I think this was something that for Milley, it was one of those things he just couldn't beat back. And he kept warning Trump, that trump was advocating a missile strike, he kept saying, 'If you launch a strike, it's going to escalate with the Iranians,' and it was one of what Milley called two nightmare scenarios that he was worried about in the aftermath of the election," she said.
Brianna Keilar talked about the "nightmare scenario."
"You know, just sort of more broadly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was concerned and had a conversation with Milley about the possibility of a nuclear weapon being used. And I think at the time you heard a lot of people even close to the president saying, you know, don't worry too much about what he's doing with what turned out to be the Big Lie. Really downplaying that. And you also get that sense as well with not worrying too much about what might happen with some sort of foreign engagement. And now we're getting this look at just how dire it was."
"I think what Milley was doing in a way, he was taking the playbook in the final days of Richard Nixon's tenure. Remember that the defense secretary back then, James Schlesinger famously said, 'Don't follow any orders that might be problematic from the White House without checking with me or Kissinger first.' And I think in a way, this is what Milley was doing, not to disregard White House orders, but to put everybody on high alert that there might be something problematic," Glasser said.
"I mean, it speaks to, unfortunately, the very, very stressful moment and the fear of those surrounding President Trump, that he might do anything at all. I mean, it really was a dangerous and volatile moment, but clearly the leadership of the uniformed military was on what I would say, was high alert, basically for many months."
"How did Milley's specific concerns about Iran resolve themselves?" Berman asked.
"Well, you know, the very last time that Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with Donald Trump, and I mean period last time, was Sunday, January 3rd. That is two days before what would end up being the insurrection at the Capitol. And in that meeting on Iran at the White House, Trump came back from Mar-A-Lago or early from his Christmas vacation, they had this meeting. Trump was raising recent reports from the IAEA about Iran's nuclear capacity," Glasser said.
"In the end, not only did Milley once again argue against this, but in the account that he gave to others, both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Robert O'Brien, the national security adviser, both of them Iran hawks, said in the end, 'It's too late. Mr. President,' or some version of that, essentially, 'Your time in office has run out and we can't do this now.'
"And Trump agreed to it. By the way, in that meeting, at the very end is when Trump did raise the forthcoming January 6 rally with Milley and with his acting defense secretary. And he said basically, 'Are you ready for it? It's going to be big.'"