The 45th president released a statement following former Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s several misleading claims in a sit-down “60 Minutes” interview that airs on Wednesday night.
Esper claimed Trump considered firing missiles into Mexico to take down drug cartels, suggested shooting Black Lives Matter protesters, and sending active-duty troops to Washington D.C. after St. John’s Episcopal Church was set on fire during the riots.
In a letter to CBS’s Norah O’Donnell following the interview, Trump denied the accusations, calling Esper “weak and totally ineffective,” according to The Epoch Times.
During the Sunday interview, the former Defense Secretary alleged that Trump asked, “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” referring to Black Lives Matter protestors. Esper also accused the president of wanting to unleash 10,000 active-duty troops after St. John’s Episcopal Church was set fire during the riots.
“This is a complete lie,” Trump said, adding that he has ten witnesses that can back him up. The president further clarified that he wanted to send 10,000 troops for Jan. 6, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the D.C. Mayor turned him down.
Trump also rejected claims that Esper took away his ability to invoke the Insurrection Act, which the president called “Fake News,” and stated that he “didn’t need to invoke the act and never did.”
To the claim that the president suggested they target the drug cartels with missiles, Trump wrote, “No comment.”
The Military Times reports that Esper’s interview comes before his book “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times” was released Tuesday.
President Trump fired Esper in 2020, reportedly due to disagreements based on the BLM riots that sparked in multiple cities across the country, as per Breitbart.
While an official reason for the termination was not given at the time, Trump called Esper “ineffective” and a “lightweight” in the letter to O’Donnell.
“Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and because of it, I had to run the military,” the president wrote. “He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realized it very early on. He was recommended to me by some very weak RINOs and that is what he turned out to be.”