How do I shoot a girl in the legs? It was allegedly former President Donald Trump who suggested that law enforcement fire upon the demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in the streets around the White House during the first week of June 2020.
That is according to former defense secretary Mark Esper's upcoming memoir, A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times, which hits shelves on May 10.
The Axios scoop that went viral on Monday morning cites Esper as saying that the situation was surreal, sitting in front of the Resolute desk, inside the Oval Office, with this idea weighing heavily in the air, and the president red faced and complaining loudly about the protests under way in Washington, D.C. This wasn't a difficult decision, Esper writes. The bad news was that I had to figure out a way to walk Trump back without creating the mess I was trying to avoid. Esper was still under pressure from then-President Trump, as reports circulated that the commander-in-chief came close to firing Esper his fourth defense secretary because he did not support Trump's inclination to use active-duty troops to protest protests in Washington, D.C. Minneapolis and elsewhere after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. After the 2020 election in November, Trump fired Esper and appointed Christopher C. Miller, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as acting secretary of defense.
The Axios report states that Esper's book was vetted at the highest levels of the Pentagon, being reviewed in whole or in part by almost three dozen 4 star generals, senior civilians and some Cabinet members. Some of them saw what Esper reported.
There was some disagreement in the vetting process, with Esper filing a lawsuit with the Defense Department in November 2021 for censoring his First Amendment rights by redacting parts of his book, which he claimed was crucial to telling important stories discussed in the manuscript. Esper dropped the suit in February 2022 after the Pentagon reversed its stance on the overwhelming majority of material that officials had deemed classified, and what remained in dispute wasn't central to the book, according to his lawyer.
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This aligns with what former Wall Street Journal reporter, now New York Times writer, Michael Bender, published in his 2021 book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost. The news agency reported that Trump has repeatedly called for law enforcement to shoot protesters. The former president also said that the way you re supposed to handle these people is to crack their skulls! The book purports that Trump told his team that he wanted the military to beat the f--- out of the civil rights protesters, as reported by CNN.
Representatives for Trump were not immediately available for comment on Monday. The former Pentagon chief's name went viral on Monday morning, with around 13,000 tweets, according to the Esper excerpt.