(CNN) — Then-President Donald Trump reportedly praised Adolf Hitler during a discussion with White House Secretary General John Kelly in 2018 as he traveled to Paris to commemorate the post-World War I armistice, according to excerpts from a book by the reporter of the Wall Street Journal, Michael Bender, which is forthcoming and was obtained by CNN.
“Well, Hitler did a lot of good things,” Trump reportedly told Kelly, who was explaining to the 45th president who the allies and adversaries were in the two world wars, according to Bender.
Bender also wrote in the book, titled “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost“, that Trump” was unfazed “and persisted in his defense of the German dictator by stating that the country made economic gains under Hitler’s leadership.
Trump denied the comments and that the conversation occurred when Bender asked him about it.
“This is totally untrue. President Trump never said this. This is fake news, probably by an incompetent general who was fired,” Liz Harrington, Trump’s chief spokeswoman, told CNN on Wednesday.
CNN has reached out to Kelly for comment on the claim in the book.
The claims in the new book are the latest example of Trump praising or welcoming authoritarian leaders. In the 2016 election campaign, Trump dismissed comparisons to Hitler when he faced criticism for asking voters to raise their right hands and pledge to support him, a practice some liken to Nazi Germany’s “Heil” salute.
Kelly, according to Bender, was shocked by Trump’s comment and rejected the then commander-in-chief.
“Even if it were true that he was solely responsible for rebuilding the economy, generally nothing can be said to support Adolf Hitler,” Kelly allegedly told Trump. “You just can’t.”
Bender also wrote that “others said Kelly was surprised by the comment.”
The new book also details how Trump’s language became increasingly violent during meetings in the Oval Office as protests in Seattle and Portland began to receive new media attention. The then-president featured videos showing law enforcement confronting protesters and told his administration that he wanted to see more of that type of behavior, the excerpts say.
“This is how you are supposed to treat these people,” Trump told his top police and military officials, according to Bender. “Break their skulls!”
He also told his team that he wanted the military to come in and “beat up” protesters defending civil rights, Bender writes.
Harrington told CNN that this claim in the book is also “false.”
CNN’s Margaret Given and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism