Mark Esper says he and the military chief developed “four no’s” to stop Trump from doing “bad things, terrible things” and leading the US in a “dark direction”.


Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says in a new interview that Mr Trump’s closest military advisers were involved in thwarting Donald Trump’s worst impulses during his tenure.

The former DoD chief spoke to CBS 60 minutes in a wide-ranging interview full of shocking claims that, if true, paint a picture of a chaotic final year of the Trump presidency in which the US nearly plunged into multiple new wars.

Speaking to Norah O’Donnell, Mr. Esper explained a system he and Pentagon chief Mark Milley had devised called the “four no’s”: attempt, politicization of the military, abuse of the military, so-called “strategic retreats.” ‘ and new things to prevent unnecessary conflicts with foreign powers.

Mr. Esper went on to say that in the final year of the Trump presidency, those around the former president had made proposals that included (but were not limited to): attacking Venezuela, blocking Cuba, attacking Iran, and more.

“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 said after O’Donnell asked “what terrible things” he had prevented.

The ex-defense chief added that these ideas came up “every few weeks” and that it was his (and others’) job to “bust” them.

His comments echoed comments Mr Milley himself had made since the end of the Trump presidency, when he explained his fears that the president would order a military strike against China in his final days in office.

The ex-president has gone on the offensive against Mr Esper in recent days, as he has against so many of his former political allies, who have said damaging things about his presidency since he left.

Mr Trump released a lengthy response to CBS in which he answered questions from the news agency about Mr Esper; In it, he painted Mr. Esper as a “weak” yes man desperate to keep his job.

“Mark Esper was weak and totally ineffective, and that’s why I had to run the military. I took out ISIS, Qasem Soleimani, al Baghdadi, rebuilt the military with $2.5 trillion, created the Space Force and more. Mark Esper was a stubborn guy who was desperate not to lose his job,” the president wrote.

He also explained his nickname for Mr Esper, “Yesper”, adding: “I fired Yesper because he was a [Republican In Name Only] unable to lead and I had to run the military myself.”

He didn’t address one of the most chilling allegations from the interview: the idea that the incumbent president had proposed launching a missile attack on suspected criminal cartel positions in Mexico, apparently without the approval or even knowledge of the Mexican government.

“No comment,” the ex-president replied to this question.

Portrayals of the Trump administration, particularly its final year, by former US officials and political staff have revealed a White House ruled by chaos and a president increasingly isolated from his own advisers following the conclusion of the 2020 election and his efforts to overthrow it launched the results.

Once-close former aides, including Stephanie Grisham, have spoken out against their ex-boss as he publicly plans a return to the White House in 2024 and appears to be building a huge war chest to that end.

With Mr. Esper breaking the narrative of his former boss, Mr. Trump is left with few former White House staffers who will publicly defend the final days of his presidency and his conduct in the days leading up to Jan. 6.

He remains the favorite for the 2024 GOP nomination (though he hasn’t officially announced an offer) according to recent polls, and also maintains a firm grip on intraparty politics within the Republican Party, as evidenced by his recent success in ousting JD Vance to finish line in Ohios Senate primaries. Mark Esper says he and the military chief developed “four no’s” to stop Trump from doing “bad things, terrible things” and leading the US in a “dark direction”.

Bobby Allyn

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