- Trump's rhetoric against protesters grew increasingly hostile in his final months, according to excerpts from a new book.
- CNN obtained the excerpts which reportedly detail how top Gen. Mark Milley found himself as a voice of opposition.
- On multiple occasions, Trump reportedly suggested shooting protesters, according to the book.
As protests raged across the US last year, the country's top general had to rebuff then-President Donald Trump's desire to order military intervention as a response to civil unrest several times, as the former president's manner grew more volatile in his final months in power, according to excerpts from a new book obtained by CNN.
In “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender details how Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley frequently found himself as the one voice of resistance during heated discussions in the Oval Office as Trump's rhetoric escalated in response to the eruption of civil unrest in 2020, according to the book.
Bender's book alleges that Trump would tell his administration he wanted to see law enforcement “getting physical” with protesters, even showcasing videos that featured aggressive police responses as examples, CNN reported.
“That's how you're supposed to handle these people,” Trump told top officials, according to Bender's reporting. “Crack their skulls!”
On multiple occasions inside the White House, Trump reportedly suggested shooting protesters. He also told members of his administration that he wanted the military to “beat the f— out” of the protesters, CNN said, citing Bender's forthcoming book.
According to the outlet, Milley and then-Attorney General William Barr would push back against the president's increasingly hostile language and he would acquiesce, but only somewhat.
“Well, shoot them in the leg — or maybe the foot,” Trump reportedly said. “But be hard on them!”
A representative for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Bender's book suggests that Milley also had to contend with other top officials who emboldened Trump's extremism, including senior advisor Stephen Miller, who reportedly compared the cable news coverage of protests to a third-world country, suggesting parts of America had been turned into a war zone.
The suggestion enraged Milley, according to CNN, who believed Miller to be operating out of his wheelhouse.
“Shut the f— up, Stephen,” Milley told Miller, according to the excerpts reviewed by CNN.
A representative for Milley did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
According to CNN, Bender's book also alleges that despite being on “good terms” with Trump, Milley made an effort to be in Washington as frequently as possible during the final months of Trump's presidency, in part, because he had concerns that Trump might decide to invoke the Insurrection Act as a response to protests.
Though the president never did, Milley reportedly worried about how to advise Trump if he had invoked the Insurrection Act, which would have moved military forces out on the streets acting against civilians.
Milley and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper were both against the idea, which Trump proposed several times in response to civil unrest and protests.
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