Former President Donald Trump once asked his White House chief of staff Gen. John Kelly why his generals couldn’t be more like Adolf Hitler’s, who were, in Trump’s view, “totally loyal.”
The previously unreported conversation was published by the New Yorker on Monday in an excerpt from “The Divider: Trump in the White House,” a book by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser that will be published on Sept. 20 by Doubleday. Baker is the chief White House correspondent for the New York Times and Glasser is a staff writer for the New Yorker.
“You f***ing generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?” Trump asked Kelly, according to the book.
“Which generals?” Kelly asked.
“The German generals in World War II,” Trump responded.
“You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly said.
According to the book’s authors, the 45th president was apparently unaware of that part of Nazi history.
“No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” Trump replied.
In another conversation recounted in the excerpt, Trump told Kelly about his idea for an Independence Day parade in Washington, D.C., like the one he saw on a visit to Paris on Bastille Day.
As in France, Trump wanted the U.S. military to take part in the parade — with one exception.
“Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade,” he told Kelly. “This doesn’t look good for me.”
Trump explained that there had been several formations of injured veterans — including wheelchair-bound soldiers who had lost limbs in battle — at the Bastille Day parade, and that he did not like their inclusion.
“Those are the heroes,” Kelly told Trump. “In our society, there’s only one group of people who are more heroic than they are — and they are buried over in Arlington,” he added, referring to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Va., where many soldiers who died in wars are buried.
According to the book, Kelly did not mention that his own son Robert, a Marine who was killed while serving in Afghanistan, was buried among them.
“I don’t want them,” Trump repeated. “It doesn’t look good for me.”