The initial reports on the contents of the new book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa came trickling in this afternoon.
Titled “Peril,” it’s set to be a doozy.
Mike Pence Was A Very, Very Reluctant Hero
Former Vice President Mike Pence struggled with the decision to follow the law and accept the electoral votes cast during the 2020 election far more than was previously known, a new book says.
Pence called former Vice President Dan Quayle for advice.
“Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away,” Quayle reportedly told Pence.
Pence then pushed Quayle, purportedly telling him: “You don’t know the position I’m in.”
“I do know the position you’re in,” Quayle reportedly replied. “I also know what the law is. You listen to the parliamentarian. That’s all you do. You have no power.”
Pence’s agonizing casts in stark relief how severe a constitutional crisis the country experienced last year, and how close it came to being far worse.
Trump Savaged Pence For His Decision
Pence’s decision not to participate in what would have been a coup attempt earned him a torrent of hatred from Trump and his supporters, who mobbed the Capitol on Jan. 6 while screaming “Hang Mike Pence.”
The book says that Trump himself told Pence “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this,” and later said: “You’ve betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing.”
Senior U.S. Government Leaders Feared A Coup
In November 2020, CIA Director Gina Haspel warned Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley: “We are on the way to a right-wing coup.”
Haspel’s comments came amid general worry during the transition period that Trump would start a war as a way to distract from his loss in the presidential election, or to foment a crisis big enough so that he would somehow stay in power.
Pelosi Freaked Out Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman
The day after the Jan. 6 insurrection, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called Milley.
Pelosi publicized the call, releasing a statement immediately after. But the book’s authors say that they obtained a transcript of the conversation.
“He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy,” Pelosi reportedly said. “He’s crazy and what he did yesterday is further evidence of his craziness.”
Milley replied, the book says, that he agreed with everything Pelosi had said.
“The one thing I can guarantee is that as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I want you to know that — I want you to know this in you heart of hearts, I can guarantee you 110 percent that the military, use of military power, whether it’s nuclear or a strike in a foreign country of any kind, we’re not going to do anything illegal or crazy,” Milley reportedly replied.
Pelosi retorted: “Well, what do you mean, illegal or crazy?”
Milley Took Extraordinary Steps To Thwart Trump
On Jan. 8, acting out of what the book reportedly describes as shock and fear due to the insurrection, Gen. Milley purportedly gathered a group of senior military officers to “review the procedures for launching nuclear weapons.”
The President had the authority to order a launch, but Milley also had to be involved, the book reports the JCT chair as saying. Milley reportedly looked each officer gathered in the eye and asked them to confirm that they understood.
By law, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff does not have command authority.
Milley also reportedly called his Chinese counterpart Li Zuocheng twice to reassure him that the U.S. was not about to attack.
The first call reportedly took place on Oct. 30, during which Milley said: “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
The second call took place on Jan. 8, during which Milley addressed the chaos of the insurrection and reassured Beijing that Trump would not attack China.
““Things may look unsteady,” the New York Times reported Milley as saying, “but that’s the nature of democracy, General Li.”
In conversations with senior staff, Milley reportedly likened Jan. 6 to the 1905 Russian Revolution, which was put down by the Tsar but presaged the successful 1917 revolutions that overthrew the country’s government.
“What you might have seen was a precursor to something far worse down the road,” the book quotes him as saying.