Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper has revealed how he had to prevent former President Trump from carrying out military invasions in both Venezuela and Iran during his final year in office as well as firing missiles over the Mexico border.
Speaking during a lengthy and candid interview on CBS News on Sunday night, Esper said he wanted people to know how close the country came to starting another war.
‘It’s important to our country, it’s important to the republic, the American people, that they understand what was going on in this very consequential period. The last year of the Trump administration. And to tell the story about things we prevented. Really bad things. Dangerous things that could have taken the country in – in a dark direction.’
Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS that he helped prevent a series of ‘dangerous things that could have taken the country in a dark direction’ including military action in Iran and Venezuela
Esper told how ,any of the extreme ideas occurred during the final year of Trump’s administration
Interviewer Norah O’Donnell pressed further, ‘What kind of terrible things did you prevent?’
‘At various times, folks in the White House are proposing to take military action against Venezuela. To strike Iran. At one point, somebody proposed we blockade Cuba.
‘These ideas would happen every few weeks. Something like this would come up and we’d have to swat ’em down.
When asked who would be the one ‘swatting’ ideas away, Esper revealed that it was him, together with support from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
Esper, left, claimed he had to ‘swat’ the ideas away put forward by Trump and was supported by chairman of the joint chiefs of staff General Mark Milley, seen right
Esper revealed how he and Milley came up with a ‘four no’ system to deal with the ‘crazy’ ideas coming from the White House.
‘The four things we had to prevent from happening between then and the election. And one was no strategic retreats, no unnecessary wars, no politicization of the military, and no misuse of the military. And so, as we went through the next five to six months, that became the metric by which we would measure things.’
On another occasion, Esper said Trump pulled him aside to suggest the U.S. fire missiles into Mexico.
Esper said that Trump wanted to do it to destroy drug labs in the country.
‘He would say it was to go after the cartels. And we would have this private discussion where I’d say, “Mr. President, I understand the motive.” Because he was very serious about dealing with drugs in America. I get that, we all understand, but I had to explain to him, “We can’t do that. It would violate international law. It would be terrible for our neighbors to the south. It would, you know, impact us in so many ways. Why don’t we do this instead?”‘
‘These ideas would happen every few weeks. Something like this would come up and we’d have to swat ’em down,’ Esper said of the ‘terrible’ ideas that would be suggested by Trump
A Mexican officer stands guard over the makeshift lab in El Dorado, Sinaloa. Trump wanted to launch missiles into Mexico to take the labs out, and then deny the U.S. was responsible
Trump is said to have pushed back, suggesting to Esper, ‘No one would know it was us?’
Esper corroborated the remark during Sunday night’s interview.
‘I just thought it was fanciful, right? Because, of course, it would be us. I was reluctant to tell this story. Because I thought, people won’t believe this. That they’ll think I’m just making it up and folks in Trump’s orbit will dispute it.’
On Sunday night, Trump ripped Esper as a ‘RINO incapable of leading’ and disputed several of the claims made in the interview and in his forthcoming book, A Sacred Oath.
The show sought comment from Trump, who retorted that it was a ‘complete lie’ that he wanted to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the legs and described cabinet members as ‘f**king losers,’ claiming there were ’10 witnesses’ who could back him up.
Aside from the interview, Esper also made the claims in his book, A Sacred Oath, which will be published on Tuesday
‘Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and because of it, I had to run the military,’ Trump said in a statement shared by 60 Minutes. ‘I took out ISIS, Qasem Soleimani, [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi, rebuilt the military with $2.5 trillion, created Space Force, and so much more.’
‘Mark Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job,’ added Trump. ‘He was a lightweight and a figurehead, and I realized it very early on.’
In his response to the show, Trump also disputed claims that he wanted to send 10,000 active duty troops into Washington, D.C. after St. John’s Church was set on fire and that he allegedly mistakenly believed his Insurrection Act authority was taken away by Esper.
Asked to confirm why he fired Esper, Trump said that Esper ‘was a RINO incapable of leading, and I had to run the military myself.’
On 60 Minutes’ final question — whether Trump did, in fact, contemplate attacking drug cartels in Mexico with missiles — the former president replied simply, ‘No comment.’
Trump has denied all the claims made by Esper and has released a statement on Sunday night