New details about former President Donald Trump’s explosive reaction to his electoral loss in 2020 and its aftermath—including advisors telling him to declare victory anyway and military leaders fearing a coup—have begun to leak from a forthcoming book by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker—here are the six most shocking revelations.
According to the book, entitled I Alone Can Fix It, after Fox News called Arizona for President Joe Biden early on election night, enraging Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani—who others at the event said may have had a little “too much” to drink—told the former president to “Just go declare victory, right now.”
When Trump was temporarily ahead in the race, he reportedly asked his aides why they were still “counting votes” because he thought the election was “closed,” though Trump has denied saying this, according to Rucker and Leonnig.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley worried so intensely about a Trump coup after the November election that he confided to aides a plan to stop it, according to CNN, which obtained a copy of the book. (Trump denied he ever “threatened or spoke about a coup” in a statement issued Thursday.)
Milley told aides he feared a “Reichstag moment”—referring to the fire at the German parliament in 1933, which the Nazis capitalized on to gain power—and viewed Trump as “the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose.”
Milley held a conference call with then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows every day after the January 6 Capitol riot about making sure there was a “peaceful transfer of power on January 20” and told “friends, lawmakers and colleagues” they needed to be “on guard” for what Trump might do.
I Alone Can Fix It includes other nuggets about Trump’s final year in office, including that Trump called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “that b**ch Merkel” and a “kraut,” a derogatory term for a person of German descent, in a rant about the German leader to aides.
In a conversation with Milley about the events that transpired on January 6, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told the general she excoriated Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on the House floor as rioters stormed the Capitol. “While these maniacs are going through the place, I’m standing in the aisle, and he said, ‘We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you,’” Cheney remembered. “I smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You f**king did this.’” Jordan, a fierce Trump ally, was one of the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election, while Cheney was one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over inciting the riot.
“They may try, but they’re not going to f**king succeed,” Milley told his aides about the threat of a Trump coup, according to an excerpt of the book reported by CNN. “You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with the guns.” In a conversation with deputies about security precautions in Washington, D.C., ahead of Inauguration Day, Milley continued his use of John Wayne World War II rhetoric: “Here’s the deal, guys: These guys are Nazis; they’re boogaloo boys; they’re Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II. We’re going to put a ring of steel around this city, and the Nazis aren’t getting in.”
22. That’s the number of book interviews Trump has given for 17 different books since leaving office, according to Axios. I Alone Can Fix It is slated for release on July 20.
Leonnig and Rucker’s account is based on interviews with more than 140 people for their book. According to the reporters, Trump “truly believe[d]” he was going to win on election night. “People were calling him, saying he’s going to win, and then somehow these votes just keep showing up,” one Trump advisor told Leonnig and Rucker, stressing these conversations had a “psychological impact” on the former president. In a speech in the early hours of November 4, Trump took to the podium in the East Room of the White House and falsely declared victory and promised to appeal to the Supreme Court to stop the vote count. “This is a fraud on the American public,” Trump said. “This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election.” The speech came soon after Biden addressed his supporters and claimed he was “on track to win this election,” without declaring victory. Trump for weeks prior had suggested officials stop counting ballots on election night because he baselessly thought Democrats would try and “steal” the election, even though the results are never official on Election Day.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recalled to Leonnig and Rucker she was horrified by Trump’s speech that night. “It was just a complete, total manifestation [of] insanity,” she said. The book also documents Pelosi’s conversations with Milley after January 6, in which the House Speaker worried a “crazy,” “dangerous” and “maniac” Trump might deploy nuclear weapons in the final days of his presidency. “Ma’am, I guarantee you these processes are very good,” Milley replied, according to the book.