Trump wanted to ‘shoot missiles into Mexico’ to target drug labs, says former defense secretary

Patriot missiles, to be specific.
Max Hauptman Avatar
Then-President Donald Trump, with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, during the departure ceremony for the hospital ship USNS Comfort at Naval Base Norfolk on March 28, 2020, in Norfolk, Virginia. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has a memoir coming out next week detailing his time in government. 

Among the anecdotes coming out ahead of the May 10 release of “A Sacred Oath,” as reported yesterday in The New York Times, is a story that then-President Donald Trump asked about the possibility of launching missile strikes into Mexico to target drug labs and other cartel activity. 

According to the New York Times, Esper recounts on at least two occasions in 2020 in the book when the president asked if the military could “shoot missiles into Mexico to destroy the drug labs.” 

The former defense secretary also recounted the president as saying, over his objections, that “we could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,” adding that, “no one would know it was us,” the Times reported.

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Esper served as defense secretary from July, 2019 until he was fired on Nov. November 9, 2020. He was Trump’s last Senate-confirmed secretary of defense.

The efficacy of launching a surface-to-air missile at what were presumably ground-based targets aside, excerpts from the book also recount the president saying he would simply deny that the strikes had been launched by the United States if pressed on the matter. 

“They don’t have control of their own country,” Esper recounted Trump saying.

Patriot missiles are, of course, designed to shoot down short range ballistic missiles, aircraft and cruise missiles. How they would fare when used to attack targets on the ground is unclear.

As reported in Axios, Esper’s book was vetted for accuracy through the Pentagon, including being “reviewed in whole or in part by nearly three dozen 4-star generals, senior civilians, and some Cabinet members.”

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