Overnight Defense: Milley feared Trump coup, book says | Gillibrand expects fall vote on sweeping military justice bill | Biden says sending troops to Haiti 'not on the agenda'

Overnight Defense: Milley feared Trump coup, book says | Gillibrand expects fall vote on sweeping military justice bill | Biden says sending troops to Haiti 'not on the agenda'
© Greg Nash

Happy Thursday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

THE TOPLINE: Another excerpt from a new book about former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE’s final days in office is out with new revelations about decisions that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Pentagon admits 'tragic mistake' in strike that killed 10 civilians The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Washington braces for Jan. 6 rally MORE was going to make if he was asked to carry out an illegal order. 

In excerpts published Wednesday night from the upcoming book “I Alone Can Fix It” by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Milley is described as being so shaken that Trump could try to stage a coup or take another illegal action that he and other members of the Joint Chiefs informally discussed plans to stop Trump.

Among the discussions was reportedly a plan to resign one-by-one rather than carrying out any illegal order from Trump.

Milley also reportedly spoke with friends, lawmakers and colleagues about the threat of a coup and felt he had to be “on guard” for what might happen.

"They may try, but they're not going to f------ succeed," Milley told his deputies, according to the book. "You can't do this without the military. You can't do this without the CIA and the FBI. We're the guys with the guns."

Milley also reportedly compared Trump’s lies of election fraud to the attack on the German parliament in 1933 that Adolph Hilter used as pretext to establish a dictatorship.

“This is a Reichstag moment,” Milley told aides, according to the book. “The gospel of the Führer.”

While preparing for President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE’s inauguration amid fears of a repeat of the Jan. 6 insurrection, Milley also reportedly told a group of senior leaders, “Here's the deal, guys: These guys are Nazis, they're boogaloo boys, they're Proud Boys. These are the same people we fought in World War II. We're going to put a ring of steel around this city and the Nazis aren't getting in."

If he did it?: In a lengthy statement Thursday, Trump attacked Milley, stating that the man he chose to make the top general in the country is the “last person” he’d want to stage a coup with.

“I never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our Government. So ridiculous!” Trump said. “Sorry to inform you, but an Election is my form of ‘coup,’ and if I was going to do a coup, one of the last people I would want to do it with is General Mark Milley.”

Later in the statement, Trump also said Milley is “certainly not the type of person I would be talking ‘coup’ with,” adding, “I’m not into coups!”

GILLIBRAND EXPECTS FLOOR VOTE ON HER BILL

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has been trying unsuccessfully for months to set up a quick vote on her bill to overhaul the military justice system. But on Thursday, she said that vote could happen in the fall.

In a conference call with reporters hosted by the Defense Writers Group, Gillibrand said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he will give her bill a vote, but that first the Senate has to finish work on the “more urgent” infrastructure and spending packages currently being debated.

“He supports the measure, has voted for it in the past, and he has told me that he will give me a vote,” Gillibrand said of Schumer.

“The reason why we haven't had a vote yet is because we have two more urgent things that we have to do, and it consumes a lot of time without consent,” she continued.

“Because [Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman] Jack ReedJack ReedTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake MORE [D-R.I.] has objected to a consent agreement to just have two hours of debate equally divided and do it up and down in one day, it would take, if you literally used every bit of time, it could take two weeks. And right now, we are trying to deal with COVID relief, infrastructure and the Biden families plan. So we have a lot of work that has more urgency, and so we will probably have our vote on this in the fall.”

Where’s Biden?: Earlier this month, Biden put out a statement endorsing a recommendation from an independent commission that the decision to prosecute sex crimes be taken out of the chain of command.

But Gillibrand’s bill goes further to take most major crimes out of the chain of command. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden indicated he also supported taking other major crimes out of the chain of command.

On Thursday, Gillibrand said she has spoken with Biden recently about her bill and believes he supports it.

“I'm not going to say what he said because that would be inappropriate of me to relay that conversation, but it was essentially a congratulatory call when I got 66 co-sponsors, and there was an indication that he would love to sign that into law,” she said. “So I believe that the president 110 percent supports what we're doing.”

Defense bill plans: While she awaits a floor vote on her bill, the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled next week to consider its annual defense policy bill. Gillibrand plans to offer her bill as an amendment during the committee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act and believes she has the votes to get it included. A majority of committee members are co-sponsors.

But even if her amendment is approved by the committee, it would still have to survive a long process that includes negotiations with the House, which is why Gillibrand says she also wants the stand-alone vote.

NO PLANS TO SEND TROOPS TO HAITI

Sending U.S. troops to Haiti is not on the table right now, Biden said Thursday, as the island nation grapples with the assassination of its president.

"We’re only sending American Marines to our embassy to make sure that they are secure and nothing is out of whack at all. But the idea of sending American forces into Haiti is not on the agenda at this moment," Biden said at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Haiti has requested U.S. troops to help the nation guard critical infrastructure following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse last week.

The White House has not definitively ruled out the possibility of sending American forces, but Biden's comments are the clearest indication that no military assistance from the United States is imminent.

Suspects had US training: Some of the former Colombian servicemen who have been arrested in connection with Moïse’s assassination had received U.S. military training, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday.

“A review of our training databases indicates that a small number of the Colombian individuals detained as part of this investigation had participated in past U.S. military training and education programs, while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman said in a statement.

The statement did not elaborate on how many of the men received training or what the training entailed. The department’s review into the matter is ongoing, Hoffman said.

U.S. military training of South American forces is common. And Colombia, in particular, has been a close partner of the U.S. military for decades, receiving funding and other assistance to combat drug trafficking and guerilla movements.

But former Colombian service members are also sought-after mercenaries, with the country’s nearly 60 years of conflict and elite military training modeled after U.S. Army Ranger School providing fertile breeding ground for fighters to send to conflicts around the globe, such as in Yemen.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host an event on the Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghans with panelists including Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it Scott Brown's wife files to run for Congress MORE (D-N.H.) at 2:30 p.m. https://bit.ly/2UJjZsR

ICYMI

— The Hill: Navy sees first female complete training to become Naval Special Warfare combatant-craft crewman

— The Hill: Advocacy groups urge Pelosi, Schumer to keep Pentagon funding out of infrastructure bills

— The Hill: Alabama military base orders troops to show vaccination proof amid increased COVID-19 cases

— The Hill: Opinion: A good plan would deter China and protect Taiwan — but we don't have one

— The Hill: Opinion: The key lesson we must learn from our experience in Afghanistan

— Bloomberg: Air Force nuclear cruise missiles seen costing about $29 billion

—Task and Purpose: Afghan interpreter who aided US troops may be condemned to die because of a paperwork error

—Associated Press: US, Afghan’s neighbors scramble to address Taliban surge

— CNN: Biden administration looks to set up 'red phone' to China for emergency communications