Mark Esper may think Donald Trump is nuts — but he's still all-in on Trumpism
President Donald Trump watches as Secretary of Defense Mark Esper delivers remarks in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

One question in wake of Mark Esper's tell-all book is why he never came forward while President Donald Trump was in office in an effort to voice his concerns.

Speaking to Nicolle Wallace while promoting the book, titled "A Sacred Oath," Esper said that, as a Republican, he did not want to undermine some of the good he believed Trump and his administration were doing.

"Look, to be fair, Donald Trump put forward a number of traditional Republican policies, lower taxes, less regulation, border security. those are things I support, most Republicans support as well, and he made progress on many of them," he explained to Wallace. "The challenge was, in so many cases, he would go too far, right?"

In his book, he tells a story about Trump going too far when he dressed down the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attacked the military, and called into question their efforts in Afghanistan.

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"Trump launched into a twenty-minute tirade," Esper describes in the book. "He wasn’t screaming, but he looked around the room as he spoke, red in the face at times, telling the group that 'the great U.S. military isn’t as capable as you think,' that 'we put too much confidence in our allies despite them ripping us off,' and that 'we can’t even win in Afghanistan, a third-rate country.'"

Trump even went so far as to mock "overrated" Gen. James Mattis for saying once that the Afghans were brave enough to fight.

"The Chinese military is better than us,” Trump continued in his rant, according to the book. Esper described Trump as "citing their missiles and the size of their navy."

“For all the money being spent on the military—$2.5 trillion that I gave you to rebuild the military—you can’t fight. You can’t win," said Trump. It has only been a few days since Trump claimed he was running the military by himself due to this weakness.

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Esper described the Joint Chiefs as "rattled" and told Gen. Mark Milley that he needed to go talk to them after the fact and calm them down.

During his interview on MSNBC, Wallace asked Esper if he would support Trump if he was the GOP nominee, he made it clear he wouldn't, but actively working against Trump's efforts to take back the White House was another matter.

"I think it's important for Republicans -- again, I'm a Republican -- to understand that you can get those core Republican policies -- again, lower taxes, less regulation, strong military, border security," he said. "You can get them without the divisiveness, without the coarseness, and everything else, by other Republican leaders who are emerging and will emerge."

The book goes on to frequently praise Vice President Mike Pence as a compassionate man of faith who would pray for the troops or tell people they were doing "good work." More than anything, Esper praised Pence for listening to what people said and "asking good questions."

He went on to say that too many Republicans are responding to "the base." People like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), he said, are following their oath to the Constitution.

He said that none of the major problems facing the U.S. will be solved with the dysfunction evident in Washington.

As for the reason he's only coming out now, Esper said a lot of good people worked in the White House who were just trying to solve problems, and "they shouldn't be beat up for doing it or beat up for staying."

Without people like him, he said, they're left with wholly unqualified people who wouldn't have pushed back against Trump.

Esper, of course, was fired by Trump anyway.