Trump Blasts 'Lightweight' Former Defense Chief Esper Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testifies during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on July 9, 2020. (Greg Nash/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 09 May 2022 09:22 AM
Former President Donald Trump slammed his former "lightweight" defense secretary for allegations made in a new book and shared during a nationally televised interview.
Mark Esper appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday night to promote his new book, "A Sacred Oath," in which he claims Trump wanted to shoot racial justice protesters in the legs and fire missiles into Mexico to take out cartels.
"This is a complete lie, and 10 witnesses can back it up," Trump wrote "60 Minutes" host Norah O'Donnell in response to Esper's claims that the then-president wanted to shoot protesters in the legs.
"Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and because of it, I had to run the military. I took out ISIS, Qasem Soleimani, 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."
Trump went on to explain his nickname for Esper.
"He would do anything I wanted, that's why I called him 'Yesper,'" Trump wrote. "He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realized it very early on. He was recommended to me by some very weak RINOs and that is what he turned out to be."
Trump refuted accusations that Esper had blocked consideration of using the Insurrection Act, which could have deployed active-duty troops to deal with civil unrest.
"This is Fake News," Trump said. "The fact is I didn't need to invoke the act and never did."
Trump denied Esper's allegation that the president wanted to send 10,000 U.S. troops to Washington after St. John's Episcopal Church was set on fire in late May 2020.
"Wrong," Trump wrote. "I wanted to send at least 10,000 troops for January 6, because I knew many people were coming to Washington that day to protest the corrupt Presidential Election of 2020. Nancy Pelosi and the D.C. Mayor turned me down."
Trump explained why he fired Esper in November 2020 amid arguments with Trump over police brutality and the response to racial protests in the U.S.
"I fired Yesper because he was a RINO incapable of leading, and I had to run the military myself," Trump wrote.
Esper's opposition to using troops to help quell pre-election protests in Washington, D.C., infuriated Trump, and led to wide speculation that the defense chief was prepared to quit if faced with such an issue again.
The former president offered a "No comment" in response to whether he asked if he could "attack the drug cartels with missiles."
"A Sacred Oath" is scheduled to be released Tuesday by William Morrow.