Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper makes a number of explosive allegations about the Trump White House in his memoir, “A Sacred Oath,” which will be released Tuesday.
What You Need To Know
- Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper makes a number of explosive allegations about the Trump White House in his memoir, “A Sacred Oath,” which will be released Tuesday
- According to The New York Times, Esper writes that in 2020 Trump asked him at least twice about launching missiles into Mexico to “destroy the drug labs” and eradicate the cartels
- Esper writes he had concerns shortly before the election that Trump might attempt to use the military to stay in power, including by ordering soldiers to seize ballot boxes in key states
- Trump adviser Stephen Miller, Esper writes, proposed securing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's head, dipping it in pig’s blood and parading it around as a warning to other terrorists
Here are seven stunning claims Esper, whom Trump fired shortly after the 2020 presidential election, makes in the book, according to various reports from media outlets that received advanced copies.
Trump wanted missile strikes on Mexico drug labs
According to The New York Times, Esper writes that in 2020 Trump asked him at least twice about launching missiles into Mexico to “destroy the drug labs” and eradicate the cartels.
“They don’t have control of their own country,” Esper quotes Trump as saying.
The president thought such a mission could be carried out in secret, Esper writes.
“We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,” Trump said, according to Esper. “No one would know it was us.”
The former Pentagon chief writes he would have thought Trump was joking if he hadn’t been staring him in the face.
Esper feared Trump might attempt coup
Esper writes he had concerns shortly before the election that Trump might attempt to use the military to stay in power, including by ordering soldiers to seize ballot boxes in key states.
According to The Guardian, Esper told the general commanding the National Guard to alert him if he were contacted by anyone from inside the White House.
“Without being too explicit, my message was clear: the US military was not going to get involved in the election, no matter who directed it. I would intercede,” Esper writes, according to The Guardian.
Trump asked about shooting protesters
Trump also asked during a June 2020 Oval Office meeting with advisers whether troops could shoot demonstrators protesting racial injustice outside the White House, according to multiple reports about Esper’s book.
“Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” Trump said, according to Esper.
Esper writes, according to Axios, that it “was surreal, sitting in front of the Resolute desk, inside the Oval Office, with this idea weighing heavily in the air, and the president red faced and complaining loudly about the protests under way in Washington, D.C.
“The good news — this wasn’t a difficult decision,” Esper adds. “The bad news — I had to figure out a way to walk Trump back without creating the mess I was trying to avoid.”
Trump called Pence, senior advisers ‘losers’
Trump grew irate during a 2020 White House meeting when Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told him he didn’t have the authority to deploy active duty or National Guard forces to quell protests around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death, Esper writes.
The president took out his frustration on Milley, Esper and Attorney General Bill Barr, telling them, “You are losers! You are all f****** losers!” Esper writes, according to The Guardian and Newsweek.
"This wasn't the first time I had heard him use this language, but not with this much anger, and never directed at people in a room with him, let alone toward Barr, Milley and me," Esper writes.
Trump also chastised Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the room.
“He repeated the foul insults again, this time directing his venom at the vice-president as well, who sat quietly, stone-faced, in the chair at the far end of the semi-circle closest to the Rose Garden,” Esper writes. “I never saw him yell at the vice-president before, so this really caught my attention.
"Trump shouted, 'None of you have any backbone to stand up to the violence,' and suggested we were fine with people 'burning down our cities,’" according to Esper.
Stephen Miller wanted to parade around head of ISIS leader
Esper also writes about some ideas he said were suggested by Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump.
After members of the national security team met in the Situation Room to watch the U.S. raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019, Miller, Esper writes, proposed securing al-Baghdadi’s head, dipping it in pig’s blood and parading it around as a warning to other terrorists, according to The New York Times.
Esper writes that he told Miller that would be a “war crime.”
Miller denied Esper’s account to The Times and called the former defense secretary “a moron.”
Miller called for 250K troops at border
Esper also writes that Miller proposed sending 250,000 troops to the Southwest border to handle “caravans” of migrants trying to come to the U.S.
“The U.S. armed forces don’t have 250,000 troops to send to the border for such nonsense,” Esper told Miller, according to The Times’ reporting about the tell-all.
Esper discussed the exchange in an interview with “60 Minutes” set to air Sunday, an excerpt of which was posted on social media Thursday.
“I think he’s joking,” Esper recounts. “And then I turn around, and I look at him in these deadpan eyes. It’s clear that he is not joking. And so I say something like, ‘Well, look, DHS can handle whatever caravans are coming up. They’ve done so in the past.’ He said — he repeats — ‘No, we need a quarter-million troops.”
Esper told “60 Minutes,” after the meeting, he asked Milley to make sure no efforts were underway to move forward with the massive deployment, and Milley returned with a document showing an initial plan, which included Pentagon officials, had been drafted.
Officer explored 25th Amendment
The former defense secretary also writes that Trump behaved so erratically at a May 9, 2020, meeting about China with the Joint Chiefs of Staff that it prompted one officer, whom Esper did not name, to research the 25th Amendment.
The amendment allows for the vice president and Cabinet to remove the president if they believe he is unable to perform his duties.
Esper himself writes that he never believed Trump’s conduct warranted use of the 25th Amendment. He, however, told The Times that Trump “is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service.”
Trump’s office did not respond to a request Friday for comment on the claims in Esper’s book.
The book’s publisher, William Morrow, did not respond to an email from Spectrum News on Friday seeking confirmation that all the stories appear in the memoir.