Trump wanted to shut down all embassies in Africa, withdraw all troops from South Korea, meet with the Taliban and argued frequently with Merkel about sending aid to Ukraine, Mark Esper claims in book

  • An excerpt shared from the former defense secretary’s new book details a meeting in which US officials tried to dissuade Trump from a Taliban meeting
  • While discussing his eventual Taliban peace deal, Trump ‘leaped around the world like a bullfrog jumping from lily pad to lily pad’ in his complaints
  • Former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly joked that any Taliban member coming to the White House would have to go through a magnetometer 
  • Esper also told CBS’ 60 Minutes program that he helped prevent a series of ‘dangerous things that could have taken the country in a dark direction’ 
  • Esper cited various examples including a proposal to ‘take military action against Venezuela, ‘strike Iran’ and, ‘at one point, blockade Cuba’
  • Many of the extreme ideas occurred during final year of Trump’s administration
  • Other revelations also include exploring the idea of secretly launching missiles into Mexico and shooting people in the leg protesting the death of George Floyd 
  • Esper claimed President Trump discussed sending 10,000 active duty troops to Washington, D.C., during racial injustice protests
  • Trump has denied all the claims made by Esper and has released a statement  

The former president frequently made ‘outlandish’ foreign policy demands, Mark Esper claims in his forthcoming book

Donald Trump wanted to shut down all American embassies in Africa and withdraw the United States military from the continent when he was in the White House, Defense Secretary Mark Esper reveals in a new excerpt of his memoir published on Monday.

The former Pentagon chief details a number of ‘outlandish’ proposals his old boss confronted him with in the forthcoming book, A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times. 

Among them were pulling the US military out of South Korea, where it’s been for more than half a century, and repeatedly rebuffing pushes to follow American foreign policy on Ukraine.

The new excerpt released by Politico primarily focuses on Trump’s alleged eagerness to meet with the Taliban, which the ex-president believed would ‘cast him as an extraordinary diplomat and businessman.

The meeting ended up being called off after a September 5 car bomb in Kabul killed 12 people including one American service member. 

‘Some of the things he was proposing were outlandish — such as a “complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea” or the pullback of all military and diplomatic personnel from Africa,’ Esper wrote of Trump.

He recalled Trump bluntly saying, ‘Shut down the embassies in Africa’ and ‘bring our people [US diplomats] back home.’ 

Esper claims Trump was ‘irritated’ at his push-back.

In 2018 Trump infamously referred to African nations and Haiti as ‘s***hole countries’ during a discussion about the flow of immigrants to the US, and apparently added that the country needed more immigrants from Norway. 

Former Pentagon chief Esper said many of the extreme ideas occurred during the final year of Trump’s administration

A year later the ex-president was criticized for a plan to meet with the Taliban, flying in the face of years of post-September 11 US policy. 

In his forthcoming book, Esper details an August 30, 2019 White House situation room meeting where Pompeo outlined a ‘final plan’ for a peace deal with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan. 

Bolton, he writes, was vehemently opposed. However he and Esper agreed that a drawdown of US troops to 8,600 by Afghanistan’s presidential elections could be feasible.

‘Trump then caught everyone by surprise by declaring, “I want to meet with the Taliban” here in Washington. We all sat there stunned for a moment, carefully looking around at one another, and then at him to see if the president was serious. He was,’ the former defense secretary writes.

He added that Trump also wanted to meet with Kabul’s leader Ashraf Ghani in ‘separate meetings.’

‘None of us liked this idea. As the president went around the room, we each tried to dissuade him in different ways,’ Esper writes.

Esper recalls telling Trump, ‘the Taliban have the blood of American service members on their hands, not to mention their role in the death of nearly three thousand civilians killed on our own soil on 9/11.’

Though Trump’s planned meeting with the Taliban was called off after the terror group set off a deadly car bomb in Kabul that killed a member of the US military, Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Taliban negotiators to work out a peace deal (pictured in September 2020)

Trump was also frequently at odds with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel over who should take the lead on Ukraine aid

Bolton allegedly cracked a joke, stating that any member of the extremist group who visited the White House should enter through ‘the world’s most powerful magnetometer.’ 

Trump apparently forged ahead despite the clear opposition from Esper, Bolton and then-Vice President Mike Pence, declaring that the meeting should be at Camp David.

‘Not only couldn’t I personally do it, it would be terrible for any secretary of Defense or chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be sipping tea with these terrorists, especially while we still had troops in a combat zone,’ Esper writes. 

Though the meeting did not occur, Pompeo did meet with Taliban negotiators in Doha in 2020 as well as representatives from the former US-backed Afghan government as peace talks were underway. 

At an August 16 meeting at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey golf course that year, the former Pentagon chief claims the ex-president’s main goal for the Middle Eastern country was to have all troops out before the next presidential race. 

All of Trump’s wild demands in Mark Esper’s forthcoming memoir, ‘A Sacred Oath’

Trump asked Esper to deploy 10,000 troops in Washington, DC to ‘shoot’ Black Lives Matter protesters 

Esper claimed Trump asked ‘at least twice’ to ‘shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs’ and cartels

White House officials proposed ‘to take military action against Venezuela’ and ‘blockade Cuba,’ Esper says in CBS interview

Trump called for removing all US embassy staff and military service members out of Africa, Esper wrote 

Pentagon chief said Trump complained US Navy fleet ‘looked ugly’ compared to Russian and Italian ships

Ex-president asked Esper when the Army would ‘kick out’ Ukraine whistleblower Alexander Vindman 

‘Trump said he wanted any public statement we might release about the peace deal to say that the U.S. would be at “zero [troops] in October” 2020, just before the election. Nov. 3, 2020, was the lens through which he viewed the agreement. It was an important takeaway for me,’ Esper claims.

At that meeting, Esper claims Trump ‘started bouncing from issue to issue’ to the point where he ‘leaped around the world like a bullfrog jumping from lily pad to lily pad.’

After disparaging a previously agreed-upon plan to station more troops in Poland, Trump rehashed his well-worn complaints that ‘NATO is ripping us off.’

The ex-president reportedly launched into a story about his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which he said she asked: ‘What are you going to do about Ukraine?’

Trump said he turned the question on his European counterpart.

‘In his view, Germany was “closer to Ukraine than we are,” and it’s a “big buffer” for the Germans against Russia. “They should be paying Ukraine more than anyone,” he proclaimed,’ Esper recalls.

He claims he, Bolton and Pompeo ‘pressed Trump on several occasions’ to approve $250 million in security aid to Ukraine that Congress had already cleared, but ‘none of us could figure out what was driving the president’s resistance.’

Trump’s objections included ‘corruption in Ukraine,’ to which Esper claims he said ‘tackling corruption is a priority for [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky.’

‘Why are we even giving them this stuff [security assistance] in the first place,’ Trump allegedly asked.

But Esper suggests his reasoning – including deterring Moscow’s aggression and pointing out that ‘it is the law’ – fell on deaf ears/

‘With his arms folded in front of him as he leaned forward into his desk, he was silent. He didn’t seem to care,’ Esper writes.  

Over the weekend, the former Defense chief revealed how he had to prevent his ex-boss from carrying out military invasions in both Venezuela and Iran during his final year in office as well as firing missiles over the Mexico border.

Speaking during a lengthy and candid interview on CBS News on Sunday night, Esper said he wanted people to know how close the country came to starting another war. 

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS that he helped prevent a series of ‘dangerous things that could have taken the country in a dark direction’ including military action in Iran and Venezuela

‘It’s important to our country, it’s important to the republic, the American people, that they understand what was going on in this very consequential period. The last year of the Trump administration. And to tell the story about things we prevented. Really bad things. Dangerous things that could have taken the country in – in a dark direction.’

Interviewer Norah O’Donnell pressed further, ‘What kind of terrible things did you prevent?’

‘At various times, folks in the White House are proposing to take military action against Venezuela. To strike Iran. At one point, somebody proposed we blockade Cuba.

‘These ideas would happen every few weeks. Something like this would come up and we’d have to swat ’em down.

When asked who would be the one ‘swatting’ ideas away, Esper revealed that it was him, together with support from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

Esper revealed how he and Milley came up with a ‘four no’ system to deal with the ‘crazy’ ideas coming from the White House. 

‘The four things we had to prevent from happening between then and the election. And 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 to six months, that became the metric by which we would measure things.’

On another occasion, Esper said Trump pulled him aside to suggest the U.S. fire missiles into Mexico.

Esper said that Trump wanted to do it to destroy drug labs in the country.

‘He would say it was to go after the cartels. And we would have this private discussion where I’d say, “Mr. President, I understand the motive.” Because he was very serious about dealing with drugs in America. I get that, we all understand, but I had to explain to him, “We can’t do that. It would violate international law. It would be terrible for our neighbors to the south. It would, you know, impact us in so many ways. Why don’t we do this instead?”‘

A Mexican officer stands guard over the makeshift lab in El Dorado, Sinaloa. Trump wanted to launch missiles into Mexico to take the labs out, and then deny the U.S. was responsible

Trump is said to have pushed back, suggesting to Esper, ‘No one would know it was us?’ 

Esper corroborated the remark during Sunday night’s interview.

‘I just thought it was fanciful, right? Because, of course, it would be us. I was reluctant to tell this story. Because I thought, people won’t believe this. That they’ll think I’m just making it up and folks in Trump’s orbit will dispute it.’

Aside from the interview, Esper also made the claims in his book, A Sacred Oath, which  will be published on Tuesday

On Sunday night, Trump ripped Esper as a ‘RINO incapable of leading’ and disputed several of the claims made in the interview and in his forthcoming book, A Sacred Oath. 

The show sought comment from Trump, who retorted that it was a ‘complete lie’ that he wanted to shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the legs and described cabinet members as ‘f**king losers,’ claiming there were ’10 witnesses’ who could back him up.

‘Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and because of it, I had to run the military,’ Trump said in a statement shared by 60 Minutes. ‘I took out ISIS, Qasem Soleimani, [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi, rebuilt the military with $2.5 trillion, created Space Force, and so much more.’

‘Mark Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job,’ added Trump. ‘He was a lightweight and a figurehead, and I realized it very early on.’

In his response to the show, Trump also disputed claims that he wanted to send 10,000 active duty troops into Washington, D.C. after St. John’s Church was set on fire and that he allegedly mistakenly believed his Insurrection Act authority was taken away by Esper.

Asked to confirm why he fired Esper, Trump said that Esper ‘was a RINO incapable of leading, and I had to run the military myself.’

On 60 Minutes’ final question — whether Trump did, in fact, contemplate attacking drug cartels in Mexico with missiles — the former president replied simply, ‘No comment.’

Trump has denied all the claims made by Esper and has released a statement on Sunday night

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