THE NEW YORK TIMES – President Donald J. Trump in 2020 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.
Those remarkable discussions 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.
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 book, to be published on Tuesday, offers a stunningly candid perspective from a former defense secretary, and it illuminates key episodes from the Trump presidency, including some that were unknown or underexplored.
“I felt like I was writing for history and for the American people,” said Mr. Esper, who underwent the standard Pentagon security clearance process to check for classified information.
He also sent his writing to more than two dozen four-star generals, some cabinet members and others to weigh in on accuracy and fairness.
Pressed on his view of Mr. Trump, Mr. Esper — who strained throughout the book to be fair to the man who fired him while also calling out his increasingly erratic behavior after his first impeachment trial ended in February 2020 — said carefully but bluntly,
“He is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service.”
Mr. Esper describes an administration completely overtaken by concerns about Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, with every decision tethered to that objective … READ MORE.