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Former Defense Secretary Says Donald Trump’s Behavior On January 6 ‘Threatens Our Democracy’


WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 01: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump … [+] listens during the daily White House coronavirus press briefing April 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. After announcing yesterday that COVID-19 could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, the Trump administration is also contending with the economic effects of the outbreak as the stock market continues to fall, businesses remain closed, and companies lay off and furlough employees. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Monday that the actions of former President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election—and on January 6, 2021—represented a threat to American democracy.

“I think that, given the events of January 6, given how he has undermined the election results,” Esper said. “He incited people to come to D.C., stirred them up that morning, and failed to call them off, to me, that threatens our democracy.”

In an interview Monday, Esper told Fox News anchor Bret Baier that he hopes Trump does not choose to run again in 2024. “I don’t know. I hope he doesn’t. I hope that the Republican base can figure out that, while President Trump pushed a lot of traditional Republican ideas, right, 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. I think there are candidates out there that can do that.”

US President Donald Trump, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, speaks during the departure ceremony … [+] for the hospital ship USNS Comfort at Naval Base Norfolk on March 28, 2020, in Norfolk, Virginia. – The Comfort sails to New York City to aid in the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

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Esper’s new book about his time in the Trump White House, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” has already made news ahead of its release Tuesday, with The New York Times NYT reporting last week that in his book, Esper describes President Trump asking about the possibility of launching missiles into Mexico to “destroy the drug labs” and wipe out the cartels, with Mr. Trump suggesting that missile attacks could perhaps be kept secret.

Esper, who was fired by President Trump just days after the 2020 election, told NPR that during the summer of that year, Mr. Trump asked about shooting protesters amid the unrest following the death of George Floyd.

“We reached that point in the conversation where he looked frankly at [Joint Chiefs of Staff] Gen. [Mark] Milley and said, ‘Can’t you just shoot them, just shoot them in the legs or something?’ … It was a suggestion and a formal question. And we were just all taken aback at that moment as this issue just hung very heavily in the air.”

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