Mark Esper Says He Wouldn't Vote for Trump in 2024 for These Reasons

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper offered a "cautionary tale" about his old boss, ex-President Donald Trump, saying Trump's personal flaws make him unsuited for office.

During an interview with MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace on Tuesday, Esper laid out three core reasons why he couldn't vote for Trump. Esper's latest criticism of the former president arrived as Esper continues to promote a book describing his tumultuous tenure in the high-ranking Cabinet post.

"We've got to elect people—whether, it's certainly the president of the United States, but members of Congress—who have to do a few things: You have to put country before self," said Esper.

Number two, said Esper, candidates "have to have integrity and a core set of principles that guide you."

"I don't even think people close to him think he has that," said Wallace, of Trump.

"And you have to be able to reach across the aisle," continued Esper. "You have to be willing to work with people from the other party. You...have to bring the country together."

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper
During an MSNBC interview, Mark Esper, former defense secretary of ex-President Donald Trump, listed three reasons why he feels Trump is unfit for office. Above, Esper is shown during a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on October 6, 2020. JIM WATSON/Getty Images

He added, "that's what [former President] Ronald Reagan did."

Esper has joined other Trump administration officials who've penned books painting an unflattering picture of Trump's White House.

In his book, A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Defense Secretary in Extraordinary Times, Esper details multiple episodes of Trump inquiring about unusual and legally questionable courses of action.

Esper wrote that Trump asked about shooting racial justice protesters who had gathered outside the White House in 2020. In another instance, Trump asked about launching missiles into Mexico to destroy drug labs, according to Esper.

Trump denied wanting to shoot protesters in the legs in a statement to 60 Minutes. He declined comment on Esper's claims about wanting to fire missiles into Mexico.

"Mark Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job. He would do anything I wanted, that's why I called him 'Yesper,'" Trump said in the statement. "He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realized it very early on. He was recommended to me by some very weak RINOs [Republicans in name only] and that is what he turned out to be."

Trump has hinted at running again for president in 2024. Speaking on MSNBC Tuesday, Esper said he would not vote for Trump, describing himself as a "Reagan Republican."

When asked if he would actively campaign against Trump, Esper said, "I have one voice, I have one story I'm offering up today."

"I think it's important for Republicans...to understand that you can get those core Republican policies again—lower taxes, less regulation, strong military, border security—you can get them without the divisiveness, without the coarseness and everything else," said Esper.

He added that there are Republican leaders emerging, but said they need to distance themselves from Trump.

Newsweek reached out to Trump for comment.