Ex-defence secretary says he believes Trump was a ‘threat to democracy’

Former defence secretary says he hopes Trump does not run for president in 2024

Ex-defence secretary says he believes Trump was a 'threat to democracy'
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Former defence secretary Mark Esper said he believes Donald Trump was a threat to democracy, alleging that his actions led to the Capitol riots last year.

“I think that, given the events of 6 January, given how he has undermined the election results, he incited people to come to DC, stirred them up that morning, and failed to call them off. To me, that threatens our democracy,” Mr Esper told Fox News on Monday.

The former defence secretary, who has made scathing revelations about Mr Trump in his forthcoming book A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times, said he hopes his former boss doesn’t run for office in 2024.

“I hope that the Republican base can figure out that, while president Trump pushed a lot of traditional Republican ideas - smaller government, less taxes, a stronger military, border security, all those things, that there are other candidates out there that could run that could do it without dividing the people, without creating such tension within the country, and do it by growing the base as well,” he added.

Mr Esper also claimed that the former president’s closest military advisers were involved in an effort to thwart his boss’s worst impulses while in office.

“The last year of the Trump administration… we prevented really bad things, dangerous things... that could have taken the country in a dark direction,” Mr Esper told CBS.

He explained he and Pentagon chief Mark Milley devised a system called the “four No’s” to prevent the politicisation of the military among other things.

In another bombshell allegation, Mr Esper claimed Mr Trump suggested launching missiles into Mexico to “destroy the drug labs” and wipe out cartels.

Although the former president did not deny the Mexico allegation, he attacked Mr Esper by refuting other claims and calling him “weak” and a “lightweight”.

“Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective and because of it, I had to run the military,” Mr Trump told CBS in a written response.

“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’. He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realised it very early on,” he added.

Mr Esper was fired by Mr Trump in November 2020, reportedly after arguments between them over police brutality and the response to protests over racial inequality in the US.

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