New Woodward/Costa book: Trump secret memo ordering withdrawal from Afghanistan blindsided national security team

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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley (L) chats with US President Donald Trump aft helium delivered the State of the Union code astatine the US Capitol successful Washington, DC, connected February 4, 2020. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

The communicative beneath contains explicit language.

Just 8 days aft the 2020 election, then-President Donald Trump was truthful determined to extremity the warfare successful Afghanistan during his presidency that helium secretly signed a memo to retreat each troops by January 15, 2021, according to a caller book, “Peril,” from journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

The November 11 memo, according to the authors, had been secretly drafted by 2 Trump loyalists and ne'er went done the mean process for a subject directive — the caput of defense, nationalist information advisor and the president of the Joint Chiefs had each ne'er seen it. Unpredictable, impulsive, Trump had done an extremity tally astir his full nationalist information team.

In a singular scene, the authors write, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, newly appointed acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and his caller main of unit Kash Patel were each blindsided erstwhile the memo arrived astatine the Pentagon.

Woodward and Costa reproduced the memo successful “Peril.” The directive was titled, “Memorandum for the Acting Secretary of Defense: Withdrawal from Somalia and Afghanistan,” and the memo read: “I hereby nonstop you to retreat each US forces from the Federal Republic of Somalia nary aboriginal than 31 December 2020 and from the Islamic Republican of Afghanistan nary aboriginal than 15 January 2021. Inform each allied and spouse forces of the directives. Please corroborate receipt of this order.”

Milley studied the memo and announced helium was heading to the White House to face Trump.

“This is truly fucked up and I’m going to spot the President. I’m heading over. You guys tin travel oregon not,” Milley told Miller and Patel, who joined him connected the travel crossed the Potomac, according to the book.

At the White House, the 3 men paid a astonishment sojourn to nationalist information advisor Robert O’Brien and showed him the signed memo.

“How did this happen?” Milley asked O’Brien, according to the book. “Was determination immoderate process present astatine all? How does a president bash this?”

O’Brien looked astatine the memo and said, “I person nary idea,” according to the authors.

“What bash you mean you person nary idea? You’re the nationalist information advisor to the President?” Milley responded. “And the caput of defence didn’t cognize astir this? And the main of unit to the caput of defence didn’t cognize astir this? The president didn’t know. How the hellhole does this happen?”

O’Brien took the memo and left. While the officials had concisely debated whether the memo could beryllium a forgery, Trump confirmed to O’Brien that helium had signed it.

“Mr. President, you’ve got to person a gathering with the principals,” O’Brien told Trump, according to the book, which Trump agreed to bash and the directive was withdrawn.

It was “effectively a rogue memo and had nary standing,” Woodward and Costa write. “All right,” O’Brien said erstwhile helium returned to his office. “We’ve already taken attraction of this. It was a mistake. The memo was nullified.”

But the signed rogue memo undercuts the argument that Trump and immoderate of his allies, including Miller, person precocious made that Trump ne'er truly planned to get retired oregon would person planned the withdrawal amended than President Joe Biden.

“If I were present President, the satellite would find that our withdrawal from Afghanistan would beryllium a conditions-based withdrawal,” Trump said successful a connection past period arsenic the Taliban closed successful connected Kabul. “I personally had discussions with apical Taliban leaders whereby they understood what they are doing present would not person been acceptable.”

Axios’ Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu reported successful May that the memo had been drafted by 2 Trump loyalists who should not person been progressive successful the process — Johnny McEntee, the erstwhile assemblage antheral who Trump had named caput of White House personnel, and arguable retired Lt. Col. Douglas Macgregor, who had conscionable been appointed arsenic an advisor to Miller.

Woodward and Costa constitute successful “Peril” that the memo was besides 1 of the reasons Milley was acrophobic Trump could spell rogue aft the November election, and prompted Milley aft the January 6 insurrection to instrumentality steps to effort to bounds Trump from launching subject strikes oregon atomic weapons unless helium was consulted.

Eventually, Milley, Miller and Patel near the White House. They ne'er saw the President that day, but aft the January 6 battle connected the Capitol, Woodward and Costa constitute that Milley “felt nary implicit certainty that the subject could power oregon spot Trump.” Milley “believed it was his occupation arsenic the elder subject serviceman to deliberation the unthinkable, instrumentality immoderate and each indispensable precautions.”

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