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Report: Trump Wanted His Military Leaders to Pretend He Was Adolf Hitler

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If Donald Trump’s threats are to be believed, at some point in the not too distant future, he’ll run for president again with the hope of moving back into the White House come January 20, 2025. This would be extremely bad for the country for a lot of reasons, but probably the biggest one is the fact that he’s made it extremely clear that he’ll have no reservations leading like an out-and-out dictator in a second term. We know this thanks to both detailed reports of the plans he’s laying the groundwork for, should he win a second term, which involve firing thousands of civil servants and replacing them with loyalists who’ll do whatever he says, and because he told us as much last month, in a speech in which he said the U.S. should start executing drug dealers after sham trials. Oh, and also: the fact that he reportedly demanded his military leaders act like he was Adolf Hitler and they were German generals during World War II.

That’s right: In an excerpt from The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021, by veteran reporters Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, published on Monday by The New Yorker, we learn that the 45th president wished his generals would emulate top Nazi officials. According to Baker and Glasser, Trump hated that his top generals didn’t just blindly follow whatever ridiculous, dangerous, possibly illegal demands made of them, but rather “had rules, standards, and expertise, not blind loyalty.” One day, irate that his generals weren’t treating him with the level of respect he thought he deserved, Trump complained to his then chief of staff, John Kelly: “You fucking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals?” Curious, perhaps given the president’s disdain for Berlin and Europe in general, Kelly probed further. “Which generals?” he asked. “The German generals in World War II,” Trump reportedly responded. “You do know that they tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly told him.

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As Baker and Glasser point out, Trump, an incurious moron with the IQ of a Big Mac, did not know that. “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him,” he insisted to Kelly. “In his version of history,” the authors write, “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.”

Setting aside the fact that the leader of the free world didn’t have a basic understanding of world history, most people would agree it’s more than a little disturbing to learn that an American president thought the best thing top military leadership could do was to model their behavior after the people who helped a madman in his quest to take over Europe and, as part of that scheme, murdered millions of people. Again, the orders these “German generals” were obeying were ones to, for example, gas Jewish people alive and invade Poland. If pressed, we’re sure Trump would be all, “No, no, I didn’t mean that about all that stuff, I just meant how they didn’t have to be asked twice to serve Adolf his döner kebabs. They just said, ’Ja, führer; danke, führer,’ and that’s what I want from my guys.” But it’s important to remember that he lies about everything all the time.

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Asked for comment, Trump told The New Yorker: “These were very untalented people and once I realized it, I did not rely on them, I relied on the real generals and admirals within the system.”

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Of course, it’s hardly surprising to hear that the former president wanted to base his management style off of Hitler, given his apparent soft spot for the guy. Last year, journalist Michael Bender reported that Trump told Kelly, during a trip to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, that “Hitler did a lot of good things,” and shouldn’t be judged by that one genocide. (The remark reportedly came amidst a history lesson in which Kelly “reminded the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and “connected the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities.” A Trump spokesperson called the report “totally false.”) Despite being told by his chief of staff that Trump was wrong, and Hitler did not, in fact, do “a lot of good things,” the president was apparently “undeterred” in his assessment, leading Kelly to be forced to tell him, “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.” (According to a 1990 Vanity Fair profile by Marie Brenner, Trump kept a book of Hitler’s speeches in a cabinet next to his bed.)

Meanwhile, Hitler is just one of Trump’s favorite dictators—which is a crazy thing to say about a person who was president of the United States. During his first term, he invited Rodrigo Duterte to stop by the White House and applauded the then president of the Philippines for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” (Duterte’s government sanctioned the execution of suspects in the streets); hosted Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, whose security forces once killed more than 800 protesters in a single day, and told reporters that Sissi was doing “fantastic“ work; and had no shortage of praise for Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who went after a 16-year-old who insulted him and a former Miss Turkey who circulated a critical poem about him. His “love letters” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un are the stuff of cringeworthy legends. In March, he publicly appealed to Vladimir Putin to help him take down Joe Biden.

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So, yeah, let’s not let this guy have power again.

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