The actions of Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are under increased scrutiny as his portrayal in best-selling books on the Trump administration appears to contradict his record in office, according to a new analysis.
Writing in Slate, Fred Kaplan analyzed an excerpt from forthcoming Susan Glasser and Peter Baker book The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021.
Kaplan wrote, "most of the excerpt is given over to a glorification of Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is portrayed as the main source of resistance to Trump’s assault on American democracy. We’ve seen this before, in Peril, the final volume of Bob Woodward’s Trump trilogy (co-authored by Robert Costa). The account by Glasser and Baker is more credible, in that they quote reliable witnesses—former defense secretary Robert Gates, Rep. Adam Smith, and Sen. Angus King—confirming key aspects of Milley’s tale. (Woodward never identifies sources, but Milley is clearly the source of his stories about Milley; most of his books’ heroes are the characters who cooperate with him most fully.)"
Kaplan claimed the description of Milley did not match his actions.
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"The most remarkable item in the Glasser-Baker portrait is the full reproduction of a long letter of resignation that Milley wrote a week after Trump’s June 1, 2020, photo op outside the church on Lafayette Square, after Black Lives Matter protesters had just been violently removed by national guard and federal officers. It’s a harsh letter," Kaplan wrote. "But here’s the thing: Milley never sent this letter. In fact, Glasser and Baker note that this was merely one of several drafts of a resignation letter—the others were shorter (and, I would guess, less contentious). Had he resigned, would he have sent this one? Given the reluctance of many officers—active-duty or retired—to reproach the commander-in-chief in public, and given the paucity of evidence that Milley ever confronted Trump so directly in private, I doubt it. This was probably his getting-it-out-of-my-system draft—meant to be saved for the personal files, then deleted."
Kaplan wondered how much of what Milley is saying is meant as public relations as he continues to lead the Joint Chiefs in the Biden administration.
"Nonetheless, Milley is now working overtime to dissociate himself from Trump as much as possible and thus rehabilitate his reputation. At least Milley did speak out a bit, to the degree he felt he could, while still on his job," he wrote. "Still, judging from the excerpt, the Glasser-Baker book is probably a good read. Then, of course, Maggie Haberman, the most seasoned Trump chronicler, has her 600-page tome, Confidence Man, coming out in October. And as the Trump scandal machine keeps churning—the Jan 6 revelations, the Mar-A-Lago raid this week, who knows what curveball next week—all of these authors will need to write afterwords, if not wholly revised chapters, for the paperback editions."
Read the full report.