Trump Claims 'I Had to Run the Military' but Mark Esper Reveals 'Four Noes'

Donald Trump has claimed that he had to "run the military" during his time as president, as his former defense secretary, Mark Esper, was "weak and totally ineffective."

The former president made the remarks while dismissing a number of accusations from Esper that were revealed in a new book, A Secret Oath, and discussed in a Sunday night interview on CBS' 60 Minutes.

The damning claims made by Esper include how Trump asked whether the military could be brought in to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the summer of 2020.

Esper also alleges that Trump weighed up the possibility of firing missiles into Mexico to target drug cartels and that the former president believed "no one would know it was us."

In a statement to 60 Minutes, Trump denied the claim that he asked: "Can't you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?" with regards to the Black Lives Matter protesters.

Trump also denied he went on a foul-mouthed tirade and called his Cabinet "f*****g losers" while discussing sending 10,000 active duty troops to Washington, D.C., to help end the unrest.

Trump's Comments on Esper

"This is a complete lie, and 10 witnesses can back it up. Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and because of it, I had to run the military," Trump said.

"I took out ISIS, [Iranian commander] Qassem Soleimani, [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi, rebuilt the military with $52.5 trillion, created Space Force, and so much more.

"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 added. "He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realized it very early on. He was recommended to me by some very weak RINOs [Republican in name only] and that is what he turned out to be."

When asked about the claim that he was open to firing missiles into Mexico to target drug cartels, Trump said: "No comment."

Esper said the idea to attack Mexico was one of a number of "dangerous" foreign policy proposals made by the Trump administration that "would have taken the country in a dark direction" had they been carried out.

These include proposing to "take military action against Venezuela," to "strike Iran" and initiating a blockade in Cuba.

"These ideas would happen it seemed every few weeks, something like this would come up and we'd have to swat them down," Esper told 60 Minutes.

Esper said that in order to prevent such actions, he and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came up with a "four noes" system.

"The four things we had to prevent from happening between then and the election," Esper said.

"One was no strategic retreats, no unnecessary wars, no politicization of the military and no misuse of the military. And so as we went through the next five or six months, that became the metric by which we would measure things."

Loyalty to Trump

Esper also discussed how he was fired by Trump in November 2020 because the former president felt he was not loyal enough to him, including how the then defense security publicly said the Insurrection Act, which would deploy active-duty troops to deal with protesters, should not be invoked.

In a statement to 60 Minutes, Trump confirmed that he fired Esper as he was "not happy" with his defense secretary.

Speaking to 60 Minutes, Esper denied that he was ever disloyal to Trump.

"I never disobeyed a direct order from the president of the United States," Esper said. "I was fortunate that he often didn't give direct orders but otherwise, I did what I thought was best for the nation and for our security, and completely within the authority granted to me under the law."

When asked why he has decided to speak out in public against Trump in a new book and not during his time in the administration, Esper said: "If I spoke out at the time, I would be fired.

"And secondly, I had no confidence that anybody that came in behind me would not be a real Trump loyalist, and Lord knows what would have happened."

Esper has been contacted for comment.

mark esper book trump
Defense Secretary Mark Esper speaks after he was sworn in as President Donald Trump looks on in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 23, 2019 Getty Images/NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP