Trump wanted to launch missiles into Mexico to rid of drug labs: Esper memoir

Trump's former defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, tells of Trump's weapons-based problem solving in his new memoir

By Kelly McClure

Published May 5, 2022 7:21PM (EDT)

US President Donald Trump walks with US Attorney General William Barr (L), US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper (C), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley (R), and others from the White House to visit St. John's Church after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd June 1, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump walks with US Attorney General William Barr (L), US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper (C), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley (R), and others from the White House to visit St. John's Church after the area was cleared of people protesting the death of George Floyd June 1, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

In a new memoir written by Trump's former defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, it's revealed that the former president would often suggest shocking weapons-based forms of problem solving such as blowing up Mexican drug labs with missiles and shooting anti-police brutality demonstrators.

"A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times," which comes out on May 10, goes into detail on Esper's tenure with Trump from June of 2019 up until he was fired by Trump after the November 2020 election.

RELATED"Can't you just shoot them?": Trump's defense secretary reveals disturbing reaction to protesters

Trump's suggestion to launch missiles into Mexico in an effort to thwart drug cartels was only the top layer of an already shocking proposal. Trump's plan, according to Esper, was then followed up with the expectation for such an action to be kept secret, so America would essentially be free from blame for it.

"We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly ... no one would know it was us," Trump is quoted as saying in Esper's book.

"I felt like I was writing for history and for the American people," said Esper in a quote pulled from The New York Times  about his reason for writing the memoir, which tells of even further questionable planning tactics posed by Trump.


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Esper paints a picture of the White House during the time of Trump as a chaotic place consumed with only thoughts of re-election, with the man at the center of such an event seemingly dead set on doing and saying things, on a regular basis, that would only prove to ensure that re-election would not be probable. 

When protests broke out in June 2020 after George Floyd's murder by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Trump asked for 10,000 active-duty troops to line the streets of Washington, according to The New York Times coverage of Esper's memoir. Fearing retaliation by demonstrators, Esper recalls Trump asking "Can't you just shoot them?"

Esper, who seems to have written a fair but firm account of the former president, sums him up saying "He is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service."

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Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is a journalist and fiction writer who lives in New Orleans. She is Salon's Nights and Weekends editor, and her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere

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