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Trump ‘wanted his generals to be more like Hitler’s’

New book describes explosive relationship between ex-president and military chiefs


Former US president Donald Trump. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Former US president Donald Trump. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Former US president Donald Trump. Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters

Donald Trump reportedly asked why his generals could not be more like those who served Adolf Hitler in World War II, according to a book by two American journalists.

Mr Trump was said to have told John Kelly, his chief of staff and a retired Marine Corps general: “You f***ing generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?”

Mr Kelly reportedly responded “Which generals?” and was told: “The German generals in World War II.”

According to The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-21, Mr Kelly then said to the president: “You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?”

But Mr Trump replied: “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him.”

The conversation was reported in the book by journalists Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, an excerpt of which was published in The New Yorker magazine.

It was one in a series of episodes that showed a highly fractious relationship between Mr Trump and his most senior military commanders.

In a statement to The New Yorker, Mr Trump said: “These were very untalented people and once I realised it, I did not rely on them, I relied on the real generals and admirals within the system.”

According to the book, Mr Trump’s conflict with the military command could be traced to his visit to Paris for Bastille Day, about six months into his presidency.

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, organised a stunning military display to mark the hundredth anniversary of the United States entering World War I.

When Mr Trump started exploring the idea of a similar parade in Washington, his military chiefs reacted fiercely against it. Veteran US Air Force general Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was said to have told the president it reminded him of when he grew up in Portugal.

“It’s what dictators do,” he told Mr Trump.

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The book reports Mr Trump told Mr Kelly: “I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade. This doesn’t look good for me.” Mr Kelly reportedly responded “those are the heroes”.

Gen Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was said to have had a “road-to-Damascus moment” after Mr Trump demanded that the military clear Black Lives Matter protesters from outside the White House in 2020.

Last night, photographs were published that appeared to show notes in Mr Trump’s handwriting that he had attempted to flush down toilets. They potentially should have been preserved as presidential records.

The photographs were from a forthcoming book Confidence Man by the journalist Maggie Haberman.

A spokesman for Mr Trump denied the allegations. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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