Trump Proposed Launching Missiles Into Mexico to 'Destroy the Drug Labs,' Esper Says

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  john-russell  •  3 weeks ago  •  35 comments

By:   Maggie Haberman (nytimes)

Trump Proposed Launching Missiles Into Mexico to 'Destroy the Drug Labs,' Esper Says
It is one of the moments in his upcoming memoir that the former defense secretary described as leaving him all but speechless.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



It is one of the moments in his upcoming memoir that the former defense secretary described as leaving him all but speechless.

''' called Donald J. Trump "an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service."

By Maggie Haberman

May 5, 2022Updated 7:13 p.m. ET

President Donald J. Trump in 2020 asked Mark T. Esper, his defense secretary, about the possibility of launching missiles into Mexico to "destroy the drug labs" and wipe out the cartels, maintaining that the United States' involvement in a strike against its southern neighbor could be kept secret, Mr. Esper recounts in his upcoming memoir.

Those remarkable discussions were among several moments that Mr. Esper described in the book, "A Sacred Oath," as leaving him all but speechless when he served the 45th president.

Mr. Esper, the last Senate-confirmed defense secretary under Mr. Trump, also had concerns about speculation that the president might misuse the military around Election Day by, for instance, having soldiers seize ballot boxes. He warned subordinates to be on alert for unusual calls from the White House in the lead-up to the election.

The book, to be published on Tuesday, offers a stunningly candid perspective from a former defense secretary, and it illuminates key episodes from the Trump presidency, including some that were unknown or underexplored.

"I felt like I was writing for history and for the American people," said Mr. Esper, who underwent the standard Pentagon security clearance process to check for classified information. He also sent his writing to more than two dozen four-star generals, some cabinet members and others to weigh in on accuracy and fairness.

Pressed on his view of Mr. Trump, Mr. Esper — who strained throughout the book to be fair to the man who fired him while also calling out his increasingly erratic behavior after his first impeachment trial ended in February 2020 — said carefully but bluntly, "He is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service."

A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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 emerged from Mr. Trump, who was unhappy about the constant flow of drugs across the southern border, 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.

In Mr. Esper's telling, Mr. Trump seemed more emboldened, and more erratic, after he was acquitted in his first impeachment trial. Mr. Esper writes that personnel choices reflected that reality, as Mr. Trump tried to tighten his grip on the executive branch with demands of personal loyalty.

Among Mr. Trump's desires was to put 10,000 active-duty troops on the streets of Washington on June 1, 2020, after large protests against police brutality erupted following the police killing of George Floyd. Mr. Trump asked Mr. Esper about the demonstrators, "Can't you just shoot them?"

Mr. Esper describes one episode nearly a month earlier during which Mr. Trump, whose re-election prospects were reshaped by his repeated bungling of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, behaved so erratically at a May 9 meeting about China with the Joint Chiefs of Staff that one officer grew alarmed. The unidentified officer confided to Mr. Esper months later that the meeting led him to research the 25th Amendment, under which the vice president and members of the cabinet can remove a president from office, to see what was required and under what circumstances it might be used.

Mr. Esper writes that he never believed Mr. Trump's conduct rose to the level of needing to invoke the 25th Amendment. He also strains to give Mr. Trump credit where he thinks he deserves it. Nonetheless, Mr. Esper paints a portrait of someone not in control of his emotions or his thought process throughout 2020.

Mr. Esper singles out officials whom he considered erratic or dangerous influences on Mr. Trump, with the policy adviser Stephen Miller near the top of the list. 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.

Mr. Miller flatly denied the episode and called Mr. Esper "a moron."

Mr. Esper also viewed Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump's final White House chief of staff, as a huge problem for the administration and the national security team in particular. Mr. Meadows often threw the president's name around when barking orders, but Mr. Esper makes clear that he often was not certain whether Mr. Meadows was communicating what Mr. Trump wanted or what Mr. Meadows wanted.

He also writes about repeated clashes with Robert C. O'Brien, Mr. Trump's national security adviser in the final year, describing Mr. O'Brien as advocating a bellicose approach to Iran without considering the potential fallout.

Mr. O'Brien said he was "surprised and disappointed" by Mr. Esper's comments.

Continue reading the main story


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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago
Pressed on his view of Mr. Trump, Mr. Esper — who strained throughout the book to be fair to the man who fired him while also calling out his increasingly erratic behavior after his first impeachment trial ended in February 2020 — said carefully but bluntly, "He is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service."
 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2  Sparty On    3 weeks ago

Let me guess, Esper has book coming out .....

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sparty On @2    3 weeks ago

One day you'll run out of excuses. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    2 weeks ago

One day you might actually deal with reality without a bias.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
2.2  cjcold  replied to  Sparty On @2    3 weeks ago

Everybody who has ever worked for Trump has written a cautionary book about his insanity.

Everybody says the same thing and they all paint the same picture of a narcissistic evil fool.

Seems the only folk who like him are the far-right wing Russian bots who pollute the internet.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.2.1  Sparty On  replied to  cjcold @2.2    2 weeks ago
Everybody who has ever worked for Trump has written a cautionary book 

Everybody eh?

That’s amazing ..... absolutely amazing.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
3  Kavika     3 weeks ago

Ha, it sounds like something that Trump would say. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
4  TᵢG    3 weeks ago
"He is an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service."

A diplomatic way of saying that Trump is a malignant narcissist who puts his self-interest well above what is best for the American people, the nation, or (really) anyone/anything else.

So, sure, GoP, keep propping up this unpatriotic, lying narcissist as your leader and potential presidential candidate.

 
 
 
TOM PA
Freshman Silent
5  TOM PA    3 weeks ago

In relation to the books author, is there a word that combines the meaning of sycophant, hider of facts/truth, desires to hold onto power/position, person who waits to reveal something for what appears to be for profit?  

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
5.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  TOM PA @5    2 weeks ago
is there a word that combines the meaning of sycophant, hider of facts/truth, desires to hold onto power/position, person who waits to reveal something for what appears to be for profit?  

Yes. Trumpette.

But I didn't make that word up

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.2  Sparty On  replied to  TOM PA @5    2 weeks ago
is there a word that combines the meaning of sycophant, hider of facts/truth, desires to hold onto power/position

Yep, these days it’s Democrat.

 
 
 
TOM PA
Freshman Silent
5.2.1  TOM PA  replied to  Sparty On @5.2    2 weeks ago

I'll wait until 2024 for all the negative books come out about Biden.  

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
6  cjcold    3 weeks ago

Everybody who has ever worked for Trump has written a cautionary book about his insanity.

Everybody says the same thing and they all paint the same picture of a narcissistic evil fool.

Seems the only folk who like him are the Russian bots who pollute the internet with lies.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1  Sparty On  replied to  cjcold @6    2 weeks ago
Everybody who has ever worked for Trump has written a cautionary book about his insanity.

Everybody eh?     That is amazing, absolutely amazing.

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
7  Jeremy Retired in NC    2 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
7.1  Ronin2  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @7    2 weeks ago

It has to be something; so why not another unsubstantiated book catering to rampant TDS readers?

I believe Trump probably wanted to bomb drug cartel labs in Mexico and South America; and he might have even screwed up patriot missiles for using drones. Wonder where the hell he got that idea from? Could it have been Bush Jr (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and Obama (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and pretty much throughout the Middle East) using drones in extra judicial killings? Trump could have lumped the cartels in with the terrorists under "The war on terror". It has been warped so far from it's original intentions.

Trump believed in throwing shit at the walls to see what would stick. He expected those beneath him to tell him if it would work or not. Those that couldn't understand that shouldn't have been serving underneath him to begin with.

Mr. Esper writes that he never believed Mr. Trump's conduct rose to the level of needing to invoke the 25th Amendment. He also strains to give Mr. Trump credit where he thinks he deserves it. Nonetheless, Mr. Esper paints a portrait of someone not in control of his emotions or his thought process throughout 2020.

Esper trying to save his ass from a massive lawsuit.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
7.1.1  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Ronin2 @7.1    2 weeks ago
Those that couldn't understand that shouldn't have been serving underneath him to begin with.

Exactly!!!

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
7.1.2  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Ronin2 @7.1    2 weeks ago

Esper is just trying to save his ass; period.  

The left seemed to be all good with Barry bombing countries all over the world but suddenly they are against it when Trump even remotely mentioned it.  You are right that he could possibly wrapped it up under the GWOT title.  After all, that's how Obama did it.

He expected those beneath him to tell him if it would work or not.

That was kind of their job. And you're right, if they didn't understand that they they shouldn't have been there.   

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.1.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @7.1.2    2 weeks ago
But please back up and read thread 7.2 as I believe this was more the normal business practice of Trump to toss out some outlandish idea and allow his subordinates to find out how it could be done or to go back and tell him why it could not be done. 

Barry wasn't bombing our neighbors. He was bombing countries known to host terrorists

 
 
 
Snuffy
Senior Guide
7.1.4  Snuffy  replied to  Trout Giggles @7.1.3    2 weeks ago
Barry wasn't bombing our neighbors. He was bombing countries known to host terrorists

I think a President can designate drug cartels as terrorist organizations to get around that.  The idea was floated during the Trump administration but shot down due to the potential impact it could  have in dealing with Mexico itself.  After all those countries that Barry was bombing,  the US had not declared war in all of them so the only rational that allowed it was that the organization had been declared a terrorist organization.  

I'm glad that it didn't move forward, would have greatly impacted relations with Mexico and by extension most of Central America.  

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.1.5  Trout Giggles  replied to  Snuffy @7.1.4    2 weeks ago

Good points

 
 
 
Snuffy
Senior Guide
7.2  Snuffy  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @7    2 weeks ago

So another 'will no one rid me of this troublesome priest' issue...

People do tend to ignore that people in power will talk about all sorts of things in what they expect is the privacy of their own office.  The Pentagon likes to plan out everything and has contingency plans for most everything one can imagine.  I expect they even have plans somewhere for the invasion of friendly countries (just in case) which would include Mexico and probably Canada too.  People like to ignore the simple idea that very probably all presidents have talked about all sorts of outlandish ideas.  As this is Trump I guess it's ok for the private conversations to be released and for people to get outraged over it and demand his head.

Add to this that Trump was well known even before his election to walk into a meeting with his subordinates, toss in an outlandish idea, and walk out.  The subordinates would then be tasked to either find a way to make the "boss's" idea work or tell him why it would not work and could not / should not be done.  

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
7.2.1  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Snuffy @7.2    2 weeks ago
Add to this that Trump was well known even before his election to walk into a meeting with his subordinates, toss in an outlandish idea, and walk out.

Yep. So few on the left got his methods and businessman side. You are absolutely correct. And the left NEVER picked up on it. Well they may have but it was much easier just to make fun................and they still do. Absolute absence of critical thinking.

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
7.2.2  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @7.2.1    2 weeks ago
So few on the left got his methods and businessman side

I think that's because they don't think about any kind implied tasks.  A boss walks into a room and throws out an idea, the implied task is for the subordinates / subject matter experts to look at the idea and work out if it's something that can be done or not.  For the left they see the "idea" and immediately run with it as a "this is going to happen" mentality that does absolutely nothing but cause problems.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
7.2.3  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @7.2.2    2 weeks ago
immediately run with it as a "this is going to happen" mentality that does absolutely nothing but cause problems.

Yes. Reminds me of this...........................

256

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
7.2.4  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @7.2.3    2 weeks ago

You mentioned the lack of critical thinking.  This just reinforces it and it's sad how accurate that actually is.  They are so busy trying to predict the future if Trump runs and wins in 2024 that they are going to give themselves a stroke.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.2.5  Trout Giggles  replied to  Jeremy Retired in NC @7.2.2    2 weeks ago
For the left they see the "idea" and immediately run with it as a "this is going to happen" mentality that does absolutely nothing but cause problems.

Not to all lefties. I've had supervisors with ideas that then left me to do the research on it. Didn't mean the idea was going to come to fruition

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
7.2.6  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Trout Giggles @7.2.5    2 weeks ago

and that could have been the situation in this case.  But, like I said, it seems many on the left ran with it as he demanded it happen.  Which looks to be not the case.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
8  Trout Giggles    2 weeks ago
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."

Uh...I may be wrong but doesn't each missile carry a serial number on them...some kind of "signature" that says From America with Love? Some one smarter than me knows the answer to this question

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
8.1  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Trout Giggles @8    2 weeks ago

Not all munitions come with a serial number.  At best you might be able to find a product lot number to identify where it was manufactured but that's about it.  With the proliferation of munitions and weapons systems around the world it would be difficult to verify where it come from.

 
 
 
Snuffy
Senior Guide
8.2  Snuffy  replied to  Trout Giggles @8    2 weeks ago

Yes.  Bombs, missiles, drones,  they never completely destroy 100% of themselves on detonation but always leave pieces.  Additionally, in keeping with the War on Drugs the Mexican military has radar coverage of it's northern border so any such launch would be tracked as well.

But please back up and read thread 7.2 as I believe this was more the normal business practice of Trump to toss out some outlandish idea and allow his subordinates to find out how it could be done or to go back and tell him why it could not be done.  I also believe that all presidents have suggested all sorts of outlandish ideas while in the privacy of their immediate circle of advisors and the privacy of their office,  they would have to.  The world is a crazy place and a leader who only thinks in conventional ways is soon outflanked by the other side.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
8.2.1  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Snuffy @8.2    2 weeks ago
I also believe that all presidents have suggested all sorts of outlandish ideas while in the privacy of their immediate circle of advisors and the privacy of their office,  they would have to.

Soooooo agree. Just so many in the circle of Trump obviously couldn't think like he does and took the outlandish suggestions as "he is going to"

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
8.2.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Snuffy @8.2    2 weeks ago

Thanks to both you and Jeremy. Like I said, some one smarter than me would know the answer.

But please back up and read thread 7.2 as I believe this was more the normal business practice of Trump to toss out some outlandish idea and allow his subordinates to find out how it could be done or to go back and tell him why it could not be done. 

I know you're right but it stills seems ridiculous to even give it any thought. Now who's to say I wouldn't come up with outlandish ideas if I were POTUS. I have an active imagination

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
8.2.3  Sparty On  replied to  Snuffy @8.2    2 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
PhD Guide
8.2.4  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  Trout Giggles @8.2.2    2 weeks ago
I know you're right but it stills seems ridiculous to even give it any thought.

I've seen it happen on different levels during my military career.  I had a Brigade Commander come in and suggest an Airborne Operation into a built up area of Afghanistan to clean out the Taliban.  There were key components that were lacking.

Now who's to say I wouldn't come up with outlandish ideas if I were POTUS. I have an active imagination

I'm sure we've all gave an idea or two that made somebody scratch their head asking WTF.  But at times it's those outlandish ideas that are tested and resulted in success.

 
 

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