Only the president could order such use, he reminded the officers, but told them that he, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, must be involved in ordering launches, according to the book.
He then went around the room, having each officer verbally confirm they understood him, the authors wrote.
The authors also wrote that Pence in December called former Vice President Dan Quayle to discuss the pressure he felt from Trump to block Biden’s victory.
Pence asked Quayle, his fellow Indiana Republican, if it was possible to intervene as presiding officer of the upcoming joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 to ensure that all of Biden’s required 270 Electoral votes were not certified, which in turn would toss the selection of the next president to the House of Representatives.
While Democrats held a simple majority of House seats, Republicans held a majority of state congressional delegations, which would determine the outcome of the election.
“Mike, you have no flexibility on this,” Quayle said, according to the book. “None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away.”
Pence then reportedly said he had told Trump that, but that the president believed it could be done, as did other unnamed people.
“You don’t, just stop it,” said Quayle, who as vice president in 1993 presided over the joint session of Congress that confirmed the election of Bill Clinton, who defeated then-President George H.W. Bush.
The book additionally reveals that on Oct. 30, four days before Election Day, Milley called up his military counterpart in China, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, because of intelligence that showed Chinese officials believed the U.S. would attack their country.
The conversation came as Trump had consistently blamed the Covid-19 pandemic on China during campaign appearances.
“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley said, according to the book. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operation against you.”
Li replied, “Okay.”
“I take you at your word,” Li said, according to the book.
Milley did not tell Trump about the phone call, the authors reported.