It was a notion so crazy that Mark Esper thought it was a joke, if not for looking him in the face as Donald Trump said it. Trump suggested to the former Secretary of Defense that the United States fire missiles into Mexico to ‘destroy drug labs.’ The revelation comes in a new book by Esper on his time in the Trump administration. The New York Times writes:
Mr. Esper describes an administration completely overtaken by concerns about Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, with every decision tethered to that objective. He writes that he could have resigned, and weighed the idea several times, but that he believed the president was surrounded by so many yes-men and people whispering dangerous ideas to him that a loyalist would have been put in Mr. Esper’s place. The real act of service, he decided, was staying in his post to ensure that such things did not come to pass.
One such idea coming from Mr. Trump, who was unhappy about the constant flow of drugs across the southern border, came during the summer of 2020. Mr. Trump asked Mr. Esper at least twice if the military could “shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs.”
“They don’t have control of their own country,” Mr. Esper recounts Mr. Trump saying.
When Mr. Esper raised various objections, Mr. Trump said that “we could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,” adding that “no one would know it was us.” Mr. Trump said he would just say that the United States had not conducted the strike, Mr. Esper recounts, writing that he would have thought it was a joke had he not been staring Mr. Trump in the face.
According to the Times, Esper writes that Trump became more erratic and emboldened after the ex-president’s first impeachment trial.
As for who inside Trump’s inner circle was the most dangerous influence on the former president, Esper tags adviser Stephen Miller.
He recounts that Mr. Miller proposed sending 250,000 troops to the southern border, claiming that a large caravan of migrants was en route. “The U.S. armed forces don’t have 250,000 troops to send to the border for such nonsense,” Mr. Esper writes that he responded.
In October 2019, after members of the national security team assembled in the Situation Room to watch a feed of the raid that killed the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Mr. Miller proposed securing Mr. al-Baghdadi’s head, dipping it in pig’s blood and parading it around to warn other terrorists, Mr. Esper writes. That would be a “war crime,” Mr. Esper shot back.
The New York Times