Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that Donald Trump wanted to shoot protesters who gathered around the White House after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In his upcoming memoir, A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times, slated for release May 10, Esper reveals this among other details in his experience working on the former president’s cabinet.
In an excerpt, published by Axios, he wrote Trump asked, "Can't you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?"
According to Axios, the book had to undergo a security review by nearly three dozen 4-star generals, senior civilians, and some Cabinet members. It was also heavily redacted by the Pentagon. After that action, Esper filed suit against the Department of Defense, accusing officials of censorship.”
After Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, Esper publicly came out against invoking the Insurrection Act, which would have allowed Trump to use active-duty military troops to control the protests in Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and other cities. That disagreement over tactics led Trump to threaten Esper’s job, according to Marketwatch.
Esper’s memoir confirms reporting by political correspondent Michael Bender, who reported in his 2021 book, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election,” that Trump repeatedly requested that law enforcement shoot and abuse protesters.
Bender’s book said General Mark Milley, the top U.S. military leader, pushed back when Trump asked that the military “crack skulls” and “beat the f*** out” of protesters who exercised their First Amendment rights.
“Just shoot them,” Bender says Trump insisted.