Trump-era Secretary of Defense Mark Esper received harsh criticism on Thursday after The New York Times published a story with quotes from his forthcoming book.
"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."
Esper, who was fired by tweet in November of 2020, reports Trump wanted to fire Patriot missiles into Mexico.
"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," 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."
Esper, a former chief of staff at the Heritage Foundation and Raytheon lobbyist, received harsh criticism for not warning America sooner, among other complaints. Here's some of what people were saying:
"Thank goodness for a robust publishing industry that lets us hear of these grave risks to the republic years after they happened," Georgia State Law Prof. Jeffrey Vagle posted on Twitter.
Retired U.S. Naval War College Prof. Tom Nichols wrote, "Your reminder that Mark Esper should have told everything he knew to Congress and the American people a lot goddamned sooner than this."
"Another Trump appointee warns 'he is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service.' But Republicans don’t care," conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot posted.
Conservative attorney George Conway described the story as "unbleepingbelievable" and said, "personally I think that a president 'not in control of his emotions or his thought process' should be deemed unable to carry out the powers and duties of his office under section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment."
Retired 3-star Gen. Mark Hertling noted a problem with Trump's plans to use Patriot missiles.
"Launching 'Patriot' missiles (an air defense missile, ground-to-air) against a ground target, and thinking no one will know. Stable genius material," he wrote.
"Why are we hearing about this two years later in a book?" Rep. Don Breyer (D-VA) asked. "As with so many revelations about awful things Trump did or tried to do, this is something Congress and the country should have known about long ago."
Attorney Ken White wrote that Esper "realizing that the candy being served to a group children is laced with rat poison: 'Wow, wait until I reveal this in my book.'"
Politico reporter Max Tani said Trump's scheme was "basically the plot" of the 1989 Tom Clancy book Clear and Present Danger, which was adapted into the 1994 movie starring Harrison Ford.
"Anyone who worked for Trump knows he is a maniac," wrote former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
Reporter Josh Wingrove summed it up as, "Happy Cinco de Mayo, I guess?"
"We had developed a plan, initial concept of how [sending 250,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border] might happen. And I was just flabbergasted," former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper tells @NorahODonnell.\n\nMark Esper speaks with 60 Minutes, Sunday. https://cbsn.ws/3MT7vVd\u00a0pic.twitter.com/DWXDJ5y2oH— 60 Minutes (@60 Minutes) 1651790745