Trump suggested 'secret' missile strike on Mexico in 2020: Former Pentagon chief
Donald Trump at CPAC (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The forthcoming book by Trump-era Secretary of Defense Mark Esper reveals a discussion of attacking Mexico late in the administration.

"Former President Donald J. Trump asked Mark T. Esper, his defense secretary, about the possibility of launching missiles into Mexico to 'destroy the drug labs' and wipe out the cartels, maintaining that the United States’ involvement in a strike against its southern neighbor could be kept secret, Mr. Esper recounts in his upcoming memoir," Maggie Haberman reported for The New York Times. "Those remarkable discussions in 2020 were among several moments that Mr. Esper described in the book, A Sacred Oath, as leaving him all but speechless when he served the 45th president."

The book says Trump asked at least twice if the military could "shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs."

Esper served as secretary of defense until Nov. 9, 2020 when Trump announced in a tweet he had been "terminated."

"Mr. Esper, the last Senate-confirmed defense secretary under Mr. Trump, also had concerns about speculation that the president might misuse the military around Election Day by, for instance, having soldiers seize ballot boxes. He warned subordinates to be on alert for unusual calls from the White House in the lead-up to the election," the newspaper reported. "Mr. Esper describes an administration completely overtaken by concerns about Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, with every decision tethered to that objective. He writes that he could have resigned, and weighed the idea several times, but that he believed the president was surrounded by so many yes-men and people whispering dangerous ideas to him that a loyalist would have been put in Mr. Esper’s place."

Esper says Trump even knew the exact missile he wanted to use, although he listed one from America's missile defense system. And Trump also suggested just brazenly lying about the military strike.

"When Mr. Esper raised various objections, Mr. Trump said that 'we could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,' adding that 'no one would know it was us.' Mr. Trump said he would just say that the United States had not conducted the strike, Mr. Esper recounts, writing that he would have thought it was a joke had he not been staring Mr. Trump in the face," the newspaper reported. "Mr. Esper writes that he never believed Mr. Trump’s conduct rose to the level of needing to invoke the 25th Amendment. He also strains to give Mr. Trump credit where he thinks he deserves it. Nonetheless, Mr. Esper paints a portrait of someone not in control of his emotions or his thought process throughout 2020."

The book is scheduled to hit bookstore shelves on Tuesday.