Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says in a new biography that former President Trump urged murdering racial justice demonstrators just days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chavin as the rallies approached the White House.
“Can’t you just shoot them?” says the narrator. “Should I just shoot them in the legs?” In a tense Oval Office meeting on June 1, 2020, Trump asked the newly appointed Esper, the cabinet member wrote.
Esper, who was sacked by Trump shortly after the election, described hearing the commander-in-chief discuss starting fire on American demonstrators as “surreal.”
“I was seated in front of the Resolute desk, inside the Oval Office, with this concept weighing heavily in the air, and the president red-faced and yelling about the protests going on in Washington, D.C.,” Esper wrote.
Axios published excerpts from Esper’s upcoming book, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense in Extraordinary Times,” on Monday.
Even if demonstrators were near the White House, the former secretary of the Army told Trump that he couldn’t use the centuries-old Insurrection Act to justify a violent reaction.
“The good news is that this wasn’t a difficult decision,” Esper added, “but the bad news is that I had to figure out how to walk Trump back without making the mess I was trying to avoid.”
I’m sure all of the Republicans pretending to care about “censorship” will be expressing their outrage at Trump’s proposal to literally shoot protesters expressing their first amendment rights. As shared in former Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s new book.https://t.co/tayUXUZV5o
— SM (@sensiblemiddle) May 2, 2022
According to Axios, Esper’s book was read by more than 30 key military officers as part of a classified vetting process. Esper’s most divisive incident occurred during the demonstrations in Washington after the police killing of George Floyd when he allowed himself to be exploited as a pawn by Trump.
Esper accompanied Trump on his walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church near Lafayette Park, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Paul Miley. The leaders were supposed to be evaluating the damage caused by protestors and speaking to troops, but Trump exploited the occasion as a botched photo op, holding up a Bible and boasting about smashing the rioters.
Later, the US military, which prides itself on staying out of party politics, sought to disassociate itself from Trump’s actions.
Axios Reports That
“Can’t you just shoot them?” Trump questioned, according to Esper, in “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” which will be released on May 10. “Should I just shoot them in the legs?”
According to Esper, the Oval Office encounter took place in June 2020, when demonstrators were gathering around the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
“It was odd, sitting in front of the Resolute desk, inside the Oval Office, with this concept weighing heavy in the air, and the president red-faced and yelling loudly about the protests taking place in Washington, D.C.,” Esper writes.
“The good news,” Esper says, “is that this wasn’t a difficult decision.” “The bad news was that I had to figure out how to walk Trump back without causing the disaster I was attempting to avert.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of something like this. Last year, Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender wrote in his book “Frank, We Did Win This Election” that Trump told Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Miley that the best way to deal with protesters across the country was to “crack their skulls,” “beat the f*** out of them,” and “shoot them in the leg — or maybe the foot.”
According to Axios, Esper’s book had to be reviewed by over three dozen 4-star generals, senior civilians, and certain Cabinet members as part of a Pentagon security review – some of whom watched what Esper did.
Trump’s administration has been contacted for comment by Spectrum News. William Morrow, the book’s publisher, did not respond to an email seeking confirmation regarding Axios’ reporting on the extract.
Esper was sacked by Trump less than a week after the presidential election in 2020. Esper had already clashed with Trump by refusing to send active-duty troops to quell protesters.
According to the publisher’s description of “A Sacred Oath,” the White House was “apparently bent on breaching conventional norms and conventions for political advantage” during Esper’s stint as Pentagon commander.
According to the description, “A Sacred Oath is Secretary Esper’s unvarnished and forthright narrative of those exceptional and dangerous times,” which includes “events and moments never before revealed.”