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Trump sought strikes on Mexico, said 'no one would know it was us', book reveals

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper listens as President Donald Trump speaks during press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House, March 18, 2020, in Washington. (Photo by AP)

Former US defense secretary Mark Esper in his new book reveals that then-president Donald Trump asked him in 2020 about launching missiles into Mexico to "destroy the drug labs" and kill cartels.

In a report on Thursday, the New York Times cited Esper’s forthcoming book ‘A Sacred Oath’ to reveal many startling discussions between him and the former US president.

"We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly," Trump suggested, according to the book, which is expected to create a buzz in intelligentsia circles in coming months.

Trump asserted that Mexico didn't "have control" over its own country and that "no one would know it was us," Esper, who apparently objected to it, recounts in the book, according to the Times.

It is one of the several exchanges detailed in Esper's book, which will be published on Tuesday.

The book describes an administration that was obsessed with Trump’s reelection campaign throughout 2020, according to the Times.

The defense secretary, who was jettisoned for butting heads with the former president over using the military to quell Black Lives Matter protests, reportedly writes that he was also concerned Trump would use the military around Election Day, potentially to seize ballot boxes.

While Esper writes that Trump's behavior never became erratic enough to justify an invocation of the 25th Amendment, the book mentions the chaotic White House focused on Trump's reelection bid.

Esper broke with Trump many times as defense secretary, including over plans to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan, but the cracks widened in the summer of 2020 when Esper said he did not support using active-duty troops to quell protests across the US triggered by the police killing of George Floyd.

Trump ultimately fired Esper in early November 2020, days after losing the presidential election.

"I felt like I was writing for history and for the American people," Esper told the Times on Thursday, calling the former president "an unprincipled person who, given his self-interest, should not be in the position of public service."

Earlier this week, a report in Axios stated that Esper's book details Trump raising the idea of shooting protesters who took to the streets around the White House that summer.

"Can't you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?" Trump asked, according to an excerpt in the book, Axios reported.

These details have also previously been documented by journalist Michael Bender in his book titled "Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost."

“Without being too explicit,” Esper writes in a new memoir, “my message was clear: the US military was not going to get involved in the election, no matter who directed it. I would intercede.”

Esper also details an Oval Office outburst in the book when Trump included his vice-president Mike Pence in a complaint that senior advisers were “losers”.

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