May 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Esper says Trump asked to shoot missiles into Mexico to "destroy" drug labs

Photo of Donald Trump speaking from a podium as Mark Esper stands behind him against the backdrop of a large American flag
Then-President Donald Trump, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, speaks at Naval Base Norfolk on March 28, 2020, in Norfolk, Va. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper reveals in his forthcoming memoir that Trump asked him about the possibility of secretly launching missiles into Mexico, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Trump, concerned about drug cartels, asked at least twice in the summer of 2020 if the U.S. military could "shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs," according to excerpts of the memoir quoted by the Times.

  • "We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly. ... No one would know it was us," Esper recounts him saying.
  • Despite Esper's objections, Trump pressed the issue, arguing that he would deny responsibility for the strike. "They don’t have control of their own country," the former defense secretary recalls him adding.
  • Esper writes that he would have thought Trump was joking if he had not been staring him right in the face, per the Times.

The big picture: Esper's book, "A Sacred Oath," which comes out on Tuesday, contains vivid, first-person revelations by a top Cabinet member and bolsters outsiders' accounts of extreme dysfunction in Trump's White House, Axios' Mike Allen writes.

Worth noting: "A Sacred Oath" was vetted at the highest levels of the Pentagon, reviewed in whole or in part by nearly three dozen 4-star generals, senior civilians and some Cabinet members.

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