Esper: Trump’s White House wanted to send 250,000 troops to the border to stop migrants

One of the nation’s top military officers was so concerned about former President Donald Trump’s red-faced ‘tirade’ about Afghanistan that he began researching the 25th Amendment on removing a president from office, former Pentagon boss Mark Esper writes in his new book.

The development came after Trump made the ‘stupid’ decision to make false and ‘baseless’ claims about the military in front of the top assembled military chiefs during a White House meeting.

It was a performance Esper termed ‘reprehensible,’ and prompted side conversations among the military brass.

Esper wasn’t the only person present who was gobsmacked.

‘Months later, one of the officers present told me in a phone call that he went home that evening deeply concerned about what he had seen in his commander in chief,’ according to Esper.

‘The next morning, he said in a very sober tone, he started reading up on the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and the role of the cabinet as a check on the president. He wanted to understand “what the Cabinet needed to consider” and what the process was,’ he writes.

The revelations are contained in Esper’s new book, A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times, in an excerpt obtained by 

News of the 25th Amendment talk of 25th Amendment talk within the upper reaches of the Pentagon comes just a day after revelations by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, authors of This Will Not Pass, that House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy discussed the 25th Amendment for removing Trump two days after January 6th – months after Esper’s conversation.

But McCarthy, who would soon return to the fold as a Trump loyalist, can be heard on tape saying the method would take ‘too long.’ 

Esper describes the encounter about the 25th Amendment as taking place following a May 9, 2020 meeting on a Saturday at the White House. 

It was ostensibly about China, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien were there, as were the joint chiefs, including the newly established Space Force.

Esper tried to dispense with the ‘dark cloud’ in the room by talking about the topic at hand.

‘Then all of a sudden Trump launched into a twenty-minute tirade. He wasn’t screaming, but he was clearly upset,’ Esper recounts. ‘He looked around the room as he spoke, red in the face at times, telling the group that “the great U.S. military isn’t as capable as you think.”‘

He also told them that ‘we put too much confidence in our allies despite them ripping us off,’ and that ‘we can’t even win in Afghanistan, a third-rate country,’ he wrote.

Then Trump took a turn toward ridiculing his former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who had resigned after his own run-ins with the president how had lauded his military career and called him by his ‘Mad Dog’ nickname the retired Marine general eschewed.

‘This last part cued himself to mock Jim Mattis again, imitating the former secretary of defense saying how “the Afghans are brave and they will fight.” Trump folded his arms across his chest and again dismissed Mattis as “the most overrated general ever,” Esper writes.

Trump reportedly used the same language to mock Mattis in an October 2019 meeting on Syria. 

According to Esper, he interjected, saying ‘There’s no doubt in my mind, Mr. President, that we can beat them.’

He also brought up the Army’s test of a hypersonic missile – a topic that Trump has mused about publicly.

‘Nevertheless, barely skipping a beat, he continued down his list of complaints, including his old favorite that “the U.S. Navy ships are ugly and broken,” followed by a quick recitation of the USS Ford’s flaws, and so on, and so on, and so on.’

 ‘I could barely get a word in defense,’ Esper writes.

He says the Joint Chiefs were ‘stone-faced’ and that he himself was ‘concerned.’

Esper was reduced to ‘ploys to arrest his behavior,’ but none seemed to work.  

‘For all the money being spent on the military—$2.5 trillion that I gave you to rebuild the military— you can’t fight. You can’t win,’ Trump vented. 

Trump appeared unable to listen to counter-arguments, stuck in ‘transit mode.’ 

Esper’s main immediate concern was how it would all affect senior military leaders.    

‘How stupid of the president, I thought, to do something like this. To make false claims and baseless complaints about the capabilities and readiness of the U.S. military to these officers — professionals who had spent their adult lives in uniform defending the country, risking them in many cases, and usually spending long periods away from their families in the process—was reprehensible.’

Trump would ultimately negotiate a withdrawal date for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, despite resistance from top military brass. President Joe Biden pulled out remaining forces early in his term in a chaotic withdrawal. 

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