- Former defense secretary Mark Esper said Trump suggested missiles to wipe out Mexico’s drug cartels.
- He suggested shooting missiles at drug labs in Mexico at least twice in 2020, Esper said.
- Esper recounted the exchange in his memoir, excerpts of which were published by The New York Times.
Former President Donald Trump suggested launching missiles into Mexico to destroy cartels’ drug labs, the former defense secretary Mark Esper wrote in his upcoming memoir, according to The New York Times.
Several excerpts from Esper’s book, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” were published by the Times on Thursday. The memoir will be published on May 10.
Esper, who served as defense secretary from July 2019 until November 2020, wrote in the book that Trump had become increasingly unhappy about drugs coming through the Mexican border.
In a meeting with the then-president in the summer of 2020, Esper wrote that Trump suggested at least twice that the US military could “shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs,” according to The Times.
“They don’t have control of their own country,” Trump said about Mexico, according to Esper.
Esper said he had objected to the idea at the time.
But according to him, Trump responded by proposing they “just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly”, adding that “no one would know it was us,” according to the Times.
The former defense secretary said he initially thought Trump was joking, but then realized he wasn’t when he looked him in the face, The Times reported.
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In the book, Esper recounts several heated debates with Trump, whom he describes as an “unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service,” as per The Times.
Esper said that he especially did not support Trump’s idea of “shooting” demonstrators who were protesting the police killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.
“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.,” Esper wrote according to an excerpt first published by Axios last week.
Shortly after the US presidential election in November 2020, Trump announced on Twitter that he had “terminated” Esper from his position.
Last year, Esper said he was suing the Defense Department over his upcoming memoir, claiming it had blocked parts of it “under the guise of classification.”