Trump Responds to Claims by Former Def. Sec. 'Yesper'

Trump called Esper 'ineffective' but also said 'he would do anything I wanted'
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2022 3:56 PM CDT
Trump Swings Back at Esper: 'Weak and Totally Ineffective'
In this June 1, 2020 photo, then-President Donald Trump and then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper depart the White House to visit St. John's Church.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(Newser) – Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper dropped a tell-all memoir last week, and he shared some of its content on 60 Minutes. In response, former President Donald Trump sent a written statement to CBS News. Had he really suggested attacking Mexican drug cartels with missiles? "No comment," Trump wrote, per the Guardian, but he had plenty to say on other matters. As to his true feelings, Trump wrote, "Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and because of it, I had to run the military." He also called Esper "a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job. He would do anything I wanted, that's why I called him 'Yesper.'"

According to the Guardian, "Esper depicts himself as one of a few presidential aides who opposed bad or illegal ideas," like sending 250,000 troops to the Mexican border or "dipping the decapitated head of a terrorist leader in pig’s blood." Regarding preparations for January 6, Trump’s statement claimed (contrary to all available evidence) that he wanted 10,000 troops for security, but Nancy Pelosi and the DC mayor shot it down. CNN highlighted Trump’s "outlandish" response to whether he proposed shooting BLM protesters in the legs: "This is a complete lie and 10 witnesses can back it up."

Trump provided no witness names, but Esper offers plenty in his book. In one excerpt published by Politico, he describes a wild 2019 meeting about the Afghan war when Trump landed on a terrible idea to which everyone objected: that he should meet personally with the Taliban at Camp David and negotiate peace. In that case, Esper was unable to stop Trump; plans for the meeting went forward, only to be derailed after a deadly Taliban car bomb in Kabul. In an interview with NPR, Esper—who was fired November 9—responded to accusations that he should have left sooner if he was so unhappy. "I would say that I saw these things happen and did something. I stayed in the fight, in the game, and managed to avoid bad things happening." (Read more Mark Esper stories.)

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