Top military adviser secretly assured China that Trump would not attack to stay in office, book claims.
President Donald Trumps senior military adviser took secret precautions to prevent Trump from being able to launch a nuclear weapon or taking military action after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, according to a new book.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the presidents top military aide, feared that Trump could "go rogue" after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and worried that he could stoke military conflict to cling to power and derail the peaceful transfer of power, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa write in "Peril."
Milley "was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline" after the election and had become "manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies," they wrote in the new book, obtained by ABC News ahead of its Sept. 21 release.
On Jan. 8, two days after the assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, Milley called his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, to assure him that the United States was "100 percent steady" and not on the brink of collapse or war despite the unrest in Washington, according to the book. He reportedly did not tell Trump about the call.
He placed a similar call in October, according to the book, to allay Chinese fears that Trump was planning a secret attack ahead of the presidential election.
That same day, Milley also convened an unscheduled meeting at the Pentagon with military officials responsible for relaying orders for a military or nuclear strike. He made clear that he "must be directly involved" with the process of launching a nuclear weapon, Woodward and Costa wrote.
"No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And Im part of that procedure," Milley told the officers as he looked them in the eye and asked them to affirm their understanding, according to the book.
"Some might contend Milley had overstepped his authority and taken extraordinary power for himself," Woodward and Costa wrote. "But his actions, he believed, were a good faith precaution to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons."
Milley was not the only senior Trump administration official worried about Trumps behavior and the potential national security implications. CIA Director Gina Haspel also worried that Trump would attack Iran after he declined to rule out military action over its nuclear program in November, the authors wrote.
Woodward and Costa said they conducted more than 200 interviews for their book on "deep background," with the condition that the firsthand participants and witnesses to the events described not be named as sources for the project.