Former US President Donald Trump is going viral – again.
This time it’s for a line in a lengthy recent media release, where he insisted he wouldn’t have used the military to illegally seize control of the US government after his election loss.
Mr Trump was responding to revelations in a new book detailing fears from General Mark Milley that the outgoing president would stage a coup during his final weeks in office.
General Milley is a former Trump loyalist who was appointed by the then-president as chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“So ridiculous! 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,” he said.
Mr Trump said he was “not into coups” and “never threatened, or spoke about, to anyone, a coup of our government”.
The mere mention of a coup was a stunning remark from a former president, especially one who left office under the cloud of a violent insurrection he helped incite at the US Capitol in January to try to halt the peaceful transfer of power to Democrat Joe Biden. Since then, the FBI has warned of a rapidly growing threat of homegrown violent extremism.
The claims are made in a soon-to-be-published book by Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, called I Alone Can Fix It. They allege General Milley was concerned about Mr Trump attempting a coup at the end of his presidency.
“They may try, but they’re not going to f—ing succeed,” General Milley told 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.”
Mr Trump’s response to the allegations has drawn online attention and become the punchline for jokes on Twitter.
“Sometimes when I really want to hurt someone’s feelings I say ‘I would never pick you to run my coup,’ ” Democrat Senator Brian Schatz tweeted.
According to other excerpts published by CNN and the Post on Wednesday (US time) ahead of the book’s release, General Milley was so concerned that Mr Trump or his allies might try to use the military to remain in power that he and other top officials strategised about how they might block him – even hatching a plan to resign, one by one.
General Milley also reportedly compared Trump’s rhetoric to Adolf Hitler’s during his rise to power.
“This is a Reichstag moment,” he reportedly told aides.
“The gospel of the Fuhrer.”
General Milley’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But he has previously spoken out against drawing the military into election politics, especially after coming under fire for joining Mr Trump on a walk through Lafayette Square for a photo op at a church shortly after the square had been violently cleared of protesters.
In his statement, Mr Trump also mocked General Milley’s response to that moment, saying it helped him realise that his top military adviser was “certainly not the type of person I would be talking ‘coup’ with”.
There is no evidence that supports Mr Trump’s claims that the election was somehow “stolen” from him.