- Pelosi wondered after the insurrection if people in Trump’s orbit stood up to him, a new book says.
- “Is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt over all this?” she asked.
- She also wondered if Gen. Mark Milley could “prevail in the snake pit of the Oval Office and the crazy family as well.”
Two days after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in a deadly attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted to know if anyone in President Donald Trump’s orbit was willing to stand up to him.
“Is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?” Pelosi asked Gen. Mark Milley during a heated phone call. That’s according to “Peril,” by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.
“Is there any reason to think that somebody, some voice of reason, could have weighed in with him?” she asked Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the book reported. “So for this, we are very, very affected by this. This is not an accident. This is not something that you go, well, now that’s done, let’s go from there. Let’s move on. It ain’t that. This is deep what he did. He traumatized the staff. He assaulted the Capitol and the rest of that. And he’s not going to get away with it. He’s not going to be empowered to do more.”
The California Democrat went on to describe Trump as “unhinged” and wondered if Milley could “prevail in the snake pit of the Oval Office and the crazy family as well.”
“You’d think there’d been an intervention by now,” Pelosi said at one point, according to the book. She added that “Republicans have blood on their hands and everybody who enables [Trump] to do what he does has blood on their hands and the traumatic effect on our country.”
Citing a transcript of the January 8 call, Woodward and Costa reported that Pelosi also asked Milley about how to curb Trump’s power. Among other things, she wanted to know what could be done “to prevent an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or from accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike?”
Pelosi also told Milley that “the American people need some reassurance on this, General.”
Milley said that while he couldn’t publicly comment on the events at the Capitol, the “nuclear triggers are secure and we’re not going to do — we’re not going to allow anything crazy, illegal, immoral or unethical to happen,” the book said.
Pelosi pressed Milley on what steps he would take to ensure that, and he responded, “Well, we have procedures. There are launch codes and procedures that are required to do that. And I can assure you, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I can assure you that will not happen.”
When Pelosi continued asking what concrete buffers were in place to prevent Trump from acting on his worst impulses, Milley said there were procedures “which require authentication, certification, and any instructions have to come from a competent authority and they have to be legal,” according to the book. “And there has to be a logical rationale for any kind of use of nuclear weapon. Not just nuclear weapons, use of force.”
In addition to Pelosi, Milley also reportedly spoke with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, on at least two occasions — once on October 30 and once on January 8 — to reassure him that the US would not launch a military strike against China.
Woodward and Costa’s reporting about Milley’s efforts to ward off a national security crisis in the wake of Trump’s election loss has drawn sharp criticism from the former president, his advisors, and some former military officials.
Trump falsely accused Milley of “treason” and the retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — who risked his career by whistleblowing about what Trump said on official call between heads of state — called for the general’s immediate resignation.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki brushed off the criticism, telling reporters on Wednesday, “I can’t speak to the former president’s experience with him or the former president’s views of him. But this president, this current president, who follows the Constitution, who’s not fomenting an insurrection, who follows the rule of law, has complete confidence in Chairman Milley.”
A spokesperson for Milley also released a statement addressing Woodward and Costa’s reporting, acknowledging his calls with Li and saying they were “in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.”