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New Book Chronicles Trump’s Fraught Relationship With Top Military Officials

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WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump told his top White House aide that he wished he had generals like the ones who had reported to Adolf Hitler, saying they were “totally loyal” to the leader of the Nazi regime, according to a forthcoming book about the 45th president.

“Why can’t you be like the German generals?” Mr. Trump told John Kelly, his chief of staff, preceding the question with an obscenity, according to an excerpt from “The Divider: Trump in the White House,” by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, published online by The New Yorker on Monday morning. (Mr. Baker is the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times; Ms. Glasser is a staff writer for The New Yorker.)

The excerpt depicts Mr. Trump as deeply frustrated by his top military officials, whom he saw as insufficiently loyal or obedient to him. In the conversation with Mr. Kelly, which took place years before the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the authors write, the chief of staff told Mr. Trump that Germany’s generals had “tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off.”

Mr. Trump was dismissive, according to the excerpt, apparently unaware of the World War II history that Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star general, knew all too well.

“‘No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,’ the president replied,” according to the book’s authors. “In his version of history, the generals of the Third Reich had been completely subservient to Hitler; this was the model he wanted for his military. Kelly told Trump that there were no such American generals, but the president was determined to test the proposition.”

Much of the excerpt focuses on Gen. Mark A. Milley, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the country’s top military official, under Mr. Trump. When the president offered him the job, General Milley told him, “I’ll do whatever you ask me to do.” But he quickly soured on the president.

General Milley’s frustration with the president peaked on June 1, 2020, when Black Lives Matter protesters filled Lafayette Square, near the White House. Mr. Trump demanded to send in the military to clear the protesters, but General Milley and other top aides refused. In response, Mr. Trump shouted, “You are all losers!” according to the excerpt. “Turning to Milley, Trump said, ‘Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?’” the authors write.

After the square was cleared by the National Guard and police, General Milley briefly joined the president and other aides in walking through the empty park so Mr. Trump could be photographed in front of a church on the other side. The authors said General Milley later considered his decision to join the president to be a “misjudgment that would haunt him forever, a ‘road-to-Damascus moment,’ as he would later put it.”

A week after that incident, General Milley wrote — but never delivered — a scathing resignation letter, accusing the president he served of politicizing the military, “ruining the international order,” failing to value diversity, and embracing the tyranny, dictatorship and extremism that members of the military had sworn to fight against.

“It is my belief that you were doing great and irreparable harm to my country,” the general wrote in the letter, which has not been revealed before and was published in its entirety by The New Yorker. General Milley wrote that Mr. Trump did not honor those who had fought against fascism and the Nazis during World War II.

“It’s now obvious to me that you don’t understand that world order,” General Milley wrote. “You don’t understand what the war was all about. In fact, you subscribe to many of the principles that we fought against. And I cannot be a party to that.”

Yet General Milley eventually decided to remain in office so he could ensure that the military could serve as a bulwark against an increasingly out-of-control president, according to the authors of the book.

“‘I’ll just fight him,’” General Milley told his staff, according to the New Yorker excerpt. “The challenge, as he saw it, was to stop Trump from doing any more damage, while also acting in a way that was consistent with his obligation to carry out the orders of his commander in chief. ‘If they want to court-martial me, or put me in prison, have at it.’”

In addition to the revelations about General Milley, the book excerpt reveals new details about Mr. Trump’s interactions with his top military and national security officials, and documents dramatic efforts by the former president’s most senior aides to prevent a domestic or international crisis in the weeks after Mr. Trump lost his re-election bid.

In the summer of 2017, the book excerpt reveals, Mr. Trump returned from viewing the Bastille Day parade in Paris and told Mr. Kelly that he wanted one of his own. But the president told Mr. Kelly: “Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade. This doesn’t look good for me,” the authors write.

“Kelly could not believe what he was hearing,” the excerpt continues. “‘Those are the heroes,’ he 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.’” Mr. Trump answered: “I don’t want them. It doesn’t look good for me,” according to the authors.

The excerpt underscores how many of the president’s senior aides have been trying to burnish their reputations in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack. Like General Milley, who largely refrained from criticizing Mr. Trump publicly, they are now eager to make their disagreements with him clear by cooperating with book authors and other journalists.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who never publicly disputed Mr. Trump’s wild election claims and has rarely criticized him since, was privately dismissive of the assertions of fraud that Mr. Trump and his advisers embraced.

On the evening of Nov. 9, 2020, after the news media called the race for Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Pompeo called General Milley and asked to see him, according to the excerpt. During a conversation at General Milley’s kitchen table, Mr. Pompeo was blunt about what he thought of the people around the president.

“‘The crazies have taken over,’” Mr. Pompeo told General Milley, according to the authors. Behind the scenes, they write, Mr. Pompeo had quickly accepted that the election was over and refused to promote overturning it.

“‘He was totally against it,’ a senior State Department official recalled. Pompeo cynically justified this jarring contrast between what he said in public and in private. ‘It was important for him to not get fired at the end, too, to be there to the bitter end,’ the senior official said,” according to the excerpt.

The authors detail what they call an “extraordinary arrangement” in the weeks after the election between Mr. Pompeo and General Milley to hold daily morning phone calls with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, in an effort to make sure the president did not take dangerous actions.

“Pompeo and Milley soon took to calling them the ‘land the plane’ phone calls,” the authors write. “‘Our job is to land this plane safely and to do a peaceful transfer of power the 20th of January,’ Milley told his staff. ‘This is our obligation to this nation.’ There was a problem, however. ‘Both engines are out, the landing gear are stuck. We’re in an emergency situation.’”

The Jan. 6 hearings on Capitol Hill have revealed that a number of the former president’s top aides pushed back privately against Mr. Trump’s election denials, even as some declined to do so publicly. Several, including Pat A. Cipollone, the former White House counsel, testified that they had attempted — without success — to convince the president that there was no evidence of substantial fraud.

In the excerpt, the authors say that General Milley concluded that Mr. Cipollone was “a force for ‘trying to keep guardrails around the president.’” The general also believed that Mr. Pompeo was “genuinely trying to achieve a peaceful handover of power,” the authors write. But they write that General Milley was “was never sure what to make of Meadows. Was the chief of staff trying to land the plane or to hijack it?”

Gen. Milley is not the only top official who considered resignation, the authors write, in response to the president’s actions.

The excerpt details private conversations among the president’s national security team as they discussed what to do in the event the president attempted to take actions they felt they could not abide. The authors report that General Milley consulted with Robert Gates, a former secretary of defense and former head of the C.I.A.

The advice from Mr. Gates was blunt, the authors write: “‘Keep the chiefs on board with you and make it clear to the White House that if you go, they all go, so that the White House knows this isn’t just about firing Mark Milley. This is about the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff quitting in response.’”

The excerpt makes clear that Mr. Trump did not always get the yes-men that he wanted. During one Oval Office exchange, Mr. Trump asked Gen. Paul Selva, an Air Force officer and the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what he thought about the president’s desire for a military parade through the nation’s capital on the Fourth of July.

General Selva’s response, which has not been reported before, was blunt, and not what the president wanted to hear, according to the book’s authors.

“‘I didn’t grow up in the United States, I actually grew up in Portugal,’ General Selva said. “‘Portugal was a dictatorship — and parades were about showing the people who had the guns. And in this country, we don’t do that.’ He added, ‘It’s not who we are.’”

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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills

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The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists

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This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
BRIGITTE STELZER

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’

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Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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