From the Pentagon to the Kremlin, new allegations against former President Donald Trump are emerging almost by the hour as a flood of books and investigative pieces hit the marketplace.
It has reached the point where the Trump headlines are starting to crowd out the Biden news, fueled by the former president’s own denials, denunciations and continued claims of a rigged election.
After all, when it comes to clicks and ratings, it’s hard for Groundhog Day-type chatter about infrastructure talks to compete with sensational accusations and outraged denials. And more members of Trump’s inner circle, with their own reputations to protect, seem willing to spill to reporters now that he’s out of office.
Still, it seems like many journalists are going to spend the next four years writing about the last four years.
Now some of the newsmaking tidbits sound like Trump letting off steam, such as saying a suspected leaker should be “executed.” But there are deadly serious allegations as well.
Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker say in their new book that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was worried that Trump would attempt a coup after the election. In “I Alone Can Fix It,” they report that Trump’s election fraud claims reminded Milley of Hitler using a 1933 attack on Germany’s parliament building as an excuse to create a Nazi dictatorship. “This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley is quoted as saying, and he feared “brownshirts in the streets.”
The book has Milley confronting various Trump aides and telling his deputies that if the Trump team attempts to cling to power, “they may try, but they’re not going to f—ing succeed.”
I’ve written six books, and feel confident in saying there’s no way the authors would feel comfortable publishing these and other details without Milley as at least a confirming source. The fact that he comes off in a heroic light is no coincidence. Like John Bolton, Jim Mattis and John Kelly, he appears to be settling scores.
The Trump pushback came Thursday: “I never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government. So ridiculous!”
Then the counterpunch: Milley “got his job only because the world’s most overrated general, James Mattis, could not stand him,” and Trump didn’t like Mattis (other than naming him to run the Pentagon).
Then there was the incident when Milley accompanied Trump to a church near the White House for the Bible photo op. “And the following day,” says Trump, “Milley choked like a dog in front of the Fake News when they told him they thought he should not have been walking with the president, which turned out to be incorrect.” Milley had apologized for what he said was an inappropriate role for a military officer.
Meanwhile, The Guardian published Thursday some supposedly leaked Kremlin documents about Trump — but stopped short of saying they were absolutely authentic.
In fact, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman called the story “great pulp fiction.”
The Guardian hedged, saying Putin in early 2016 ordered a secret spy operation to back a “mentally unstable” Trump in the election, “according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents.”
Those documents said Moscow should use “all possible force” to help Trump win the White House because that would help the Russians create “social turmoil” in America and weaken the future president’s negotiating position.
Look, we know the Russians used hacking and other methods to aid Trump, though no evidence emerged of collusion on his part. But I’m skeptical, in part because it’s hard to imagine who would risk leaking in a regime that seeks to poison and assassinate its opponents.
And these documents, of which The Guardian has screenshots, seem written to match a liberal fantasy.
The British paper says there is “apparent confirmation” — hmmm — that the Kremlin has “kompromat,” or compromising material, from Trump’s earlier “non-official visits to Russian Federation territory” — but that is in an appendix not obtained by The Guardian.
So readers are left to wonder what is true, what is exaggerated and what is malarkey as reporters and authors sift through the archeological remains of the Trump presidency.
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