A new article detailing Chris Miller’s final days as acting secretary of defense is being characterized as “bonkers” and a “wild ride,” and it’s easy to see why: The story published Friday in Vanity Fair is chock full of stunning quotes and anecdotes, like Miller railing against the department he stewarded as “fucking rotten” and his top lieutenant complaining that President Donald Trump “threw America under the bus.”
“I feel like I just dropped acid in the E-Ring,” reporter John Donnelly said after reading the article, referring to the area of the Pentagon that hosts the most senior officials in the Department of Defense.
Journalist Adam Ciralsky embedded with Miller and his two closest aides, Kashyap “Kash” Patel and Ezra Cohen, in the waning days of the Trump administration. All three agreed to on-the-record interviews and wore lapel microphones during their conversations, revealing backroom dealmaking to install Patel as CIA director without securing Senate approval and Trump seemingly aware ahead of time the Jan. 6 Capitol riots would get ugly.
“You’re going to need 10,000 people,” Miller recalled Trump telling him the day before he spoke to a crowd at the so-called “Save America Rally,” where he urged them to “fight like hell” to overturn an election he decisively lost by marching on Capitol Hill. Miller added: “No, I’m not talking bullshit. He said that. And we’re like, ‘Maybe. But you know, someone’s going to have to ask for it.’”
“You do what you need to do. You do what you need to do,” the president said, according to Miller. “‘You’re going to need 10,000.”
Hundreds of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol as Congress was certifying the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6 in a remarkable departure from the centuries-old tradition of a peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next. Lawmakers and congressional staff were ordered to shelter in place, and the Secret Service quickly ushered Vice President Mike Pence from the Senate floor moments before the chamber was breached by the mob, with some carrying restraints who seemed intent on taking hostages.
Other highlights from the article include:
- Cohen, the 34-year-old undersecretary of defense for intelligence and acolyte of Michael Flynn, railing against Trump over the riots: “The president threw us under the bus. And when I say ‘us,’ I don’t mean only us political appointees or only us Republicans. He threw America under the bus. He caused a lot of damage to the fabric of this country. Did he go and storm the Capitol himself? No. But he, I believe, had an opportunity to tamp things down and he chose not to. And that’s really the fatal flaw. I mean, he’s in charge. And when you’re in charge, you’re responsible for what goes wrong.”
- Acting Defense Secretary Miller revealing his own doubts about serving under Trump: “I’ll just be straight up. My family’s not huge fans of the Trump administration,” Miller said. “It’s really bothered my daughters and my wife. My son, he’ll be like, ‘Holy cow, they called you a stuffed-shirt moron today.’”
- Miller going after retired military officers questioning his stewardship of the Pentagon: “You fucking assholes. If I fail, you failed,” Miller said, alluding to his decades of training and military service.
- And his eyebrow-raising assessment of the Department of Defense: “This fucking place is rotten. It’s rotten,” Miller said. “When the system is weighted towards the Joint Staff and the geographic combatant commanders against civilian control, you know, we’ve got to rethink this.”
- “The entire system, the intelligence community [included], is complicit in setting up all these compartments — so that only very select people actually have perspective and access to the entire picture. And then your question is, ‘Well, who are these people that have the complete picture?’ I felt like I finally did as acting SECDEF—to a point. I’m sure there’s still some stuff that was being compartmented. But I don’t know that for a fact.”
You should check out the entire article here.