Former President Donald Trump is calling Mark T. Esper “weak and totally ineffective” as his defense secretary promotes a memoir that claims Mr. Trump wanted to shoot racial justice protesters in the legs and fire missiles into Mexico to stop drug cartels.
Mr. Esper, speaking to CBS News, also said aid for Ukraine resulted in “argument after argument” between himself and Mr. Trump during his tenure from late 2017 to 2019.
Mr. Trump unloaded on Mr. Esper as a “lightweight and figurehead” in a response to CBS News and called the bid to shoot protesters a “complete lie.”
“And 10 witnesses can back it up. 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,” Mr. Trump said. “Mark Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job. He would do anything I wanted, that’s why I called him ‘Yesper.’”
Mr. Trump said he never planned to send in thousands of troops to deal with the summer 2020 protests but wanted to beef up troop presence on Jan. 6, 2021, hoping to shift blame for the riot by Trump supporters onto House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Capitol security personnel.
The ex-president said “no comment” in response to questions about sending missiles into Mexico, though he made his feelings about his former defense secretary clear.
“I fired Yesper because he was a RINO incapable of leading, and I had to run the military myself,” he said.