Washington (CNN) — Former US Defense Secretary Mark Esper says in his new book that then-President Donald Trump consulted him in 2020 about launching missiles into Mexico to “destroy drug labs” and take down cartels, The Times reported Thursday. New York Times.
“We could just fire some Patriot missiles and take down the labs, quietly,” Trump suggested, according to the forthcoming book “A Sacred Oath,” the newspaper reported. The former president reasoned that Mexico “had no control” over his own country and that “no one would know it was us,” said Esper, who objected at the time, according to the report.
The exchange is one of several surprising discussions detailed in Esper’s book, due to be published on Tuesday, the newspaper reported. While Esper writes that Trump’s behavior never became erratic enough to warrant invoking the 25th Amendment, the book depicts a chaotic White House focused almost entirely on Trump’s re-election bid.
A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The New York Times.
Esper’s relationship with Trump
Esper broke with Trump at various points as defense secretary, including over then-president’s plans to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan. But the rift deepened in the summer of 2020 when Esper said he did not support the use of active-duty troops to quell large-scale protests in the United States sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
Earlier this week, Axios reported that Esper’s book also details Trump raising the idea of shooting protesters who took to the streets around the White House that summer.
“Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” Trump asked, according to an excerpt from the book, Axios reported. Similar accounts have been reported by CNN before, including those documented by journalist Michael Bender in his own book titled “Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.”
Trump finally fired Esper via tweet in early November 2020, days after losing the presidential election.
Esper told The New York Times on Thursday, “I felt like I was writing for history and for the American people.” And he called the former president “an unprincipled person who, given his own self-interest, should not be in a position of public service.”