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Mark Esper, the former secretary of Defense under President Trump, says that the former president proposed a number of “outlandish” foreign policy proposals while he was in the White House, including pulling troops out of South Korea and shutting down embassies in Africa, according to an excerpt from Esper’s upcoming memoir.
In a new excerpt, shared by Politico, Esper wrote that shortly after he was hired to be the new Pentagon chief in 2019, Trump was railing against NATO and corruption in Ukraine, two personal issues that the rest of the national security and foreign policy team tried to tamp down because they weren’t considered leading concerns at the time.
Trump also said he wanted a “complete withdrawal” of forces from South Korea and that he wished to “bring our people home” from embassies in Africa, according to Esper.
“None of this was in our nation’s interests, and as I calmly responded with facts, data and arguments, I saw some irritation in him — I was the ‘new guy’ pushing back,” Esper wrote. “I knew right then and there that this job would be far more challenging than I had anticipated, to say the least.”
The excerpt comes as Esper’s book, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” offers a number of bombshell allegations against Trump, including that the former president proposed launching missiles into Mexico to strike drug labs run by the cartels.
The Hill reached out to Trump’s team for comment. In response to Esper’s claim about proposing to launch missiles to strike drug labs in Mexico, the former president said he would not comment on the allegation but called Esper a “RINO,” or Republican in name only.
“He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realized it very early on,” Trump said in a statement to CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Esper served as secretary of Defense from 2019 to November 2020, when Trump fired him following disputes over police brutality and racial justice protests in the summer of that year.
Esper has also accused Trump of threatening to deploy 10,000 active duty troops to Washington, D.C., to quell protests in the June 2020, which Esper claimed he blocked. Trump has denied Esper blocked him from doing anything.
In his memoir, Esper also recalled events in the late summer and fall of 2019 with Trump and his national security team, which at the time included national security adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The team discussed a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, part of Trump’s push to end “forever wars” and pull American troops out of the country.
Trump’s idea to meet with the Taliban near Washington had everyone “stunned for a moment” when he first proposed the plan.
“None of us liked this idea. As the president went around the room, we each tried to dissuade him in different ways,” Esper said.
While Trump’s meeting with the Taliban had been planned for the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland, a car bombing in Kabul eventually canceled the meeting.
Esper wrote that Trump had ignored the advice of his entire team when he went ahead with the meeting, which he called egregious to “be sipping tea with these terrorists, especially while we still had troops in a combat zone.”
“It would be breaking faith with them, their families and our veterans. It was not lost on many of us, either, that the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was coming up in a week or so,” Esper added. “This idea was terrible in so many ways.”