Former President Donald Trump ripped into Mark Esper this week in response to a 60 Minutes interview in which the former Secretary of Defense accused Trump of floating several eyebrow-raising military ideas while in office.
In the interview with Norah O’Donnell ahead of the release of his tell-all book, “A Sacred Oath,” Esper revealed several instances in which he, as Defense Secretary under Trump, had to prevent the former president from ordering military acts that were provocative or dangerous.
Specifically, Esper recalled a moment in the summer of 2020 when Trump suggested shooting racial justice protesters “in the legs,” and another time when Trump wanted to fire missiles into Mexico to “take out” drug cartels.
In response to Esper’s interview, the former POTUS issued a statement to 60 Minutes. “Mark Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job. He would do anything I wanted, that’s why I called him ‘Yesper.’ He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realized it very early on,” Trump wrote of his former defense secretary. “Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective and because of it, I had to run the military.”
The statement also reiterates Trump’s belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent, and that Esper’s claims against him are “fake news.” Trump also denies ever having considered using the Insurrection Act, as Esper claimed in the 60 Minutes interview, saying, “The fact is I didn’t need to invoke the act and never did.”
Appearing on CNN after Trump’s statement came out publicly, Esper responded to the claim that Trump ran the military instead of Esper himself, flatly denying it and saying he, as the Secretary of Defense, ran the military throughout his time in the Trump administration.
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