Opinion Esper’s Trump revelations should prompt action from Democrats

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Mark T. Esper, who served Donald Trump as defense secretary, alleges in a new book that he witnessed the former president in the Oval Office suggesting that members of the military should shoot protesters “in the legs or something.” Esper suggests others were present during that meeting.
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Trump denies it. He says those witnesses present would back him up.
As it turns out, this is something that Congress might investigate and try to settle, one way or the other. Will Democrats act?
The key revelation, which Esper detailed in an interview on CBS News on Sunday, supposedly took place during an Oval Office meeting about protests against police brutality in early June 2020. Trump ranted at aides, said they were all “f---ing losers” and suggested deploying 10,000 troops to the streets of Washington, D.C.






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According to Esper, Trump said of the protesters, “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something.”
The only individual Esper names as being in attendance is Vice President Mike Pence. But others seem to have been there as well, since Trump was ranting at numerous people present. CBS reports that Esper sent parts of his book to numerous members of the military establishment, and CBS claims to have verified some parts (it’s unclear which ones) with those witnesses.
And yet, asked for comment by CBS, Trump replied: “This is a complete lie, and 10 witnesses can back it up.”
So: Esper says senior people overheard Trump suggest having the military shoot Americans exercising their right to free speech, and Trump says 10 people will say it didn’t happen.

It shouldn’t be hard to settle the question. Given that the country deserves to know whether the former president suggested something so depraved and sociopathically autocratic — especially since he’s also the current leader of the GOP and will likely run for president again — this would seem to be something the House Armed Services Committee might want to probe.






“We need to flesh it out,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a member of that committee, told us. “It goes against every principle of our nation for a president of the United States to threaten force against unarmed American citizens who are engaged in the right to protest.”
Democrats could begin by asking Esper which other officials were present. They could also ask Trump which 10 officials would back up his version of events; we all know he wouldn’t name them, but at least they could ask.

Then they could hold a hearing and invite Esper and the other officials to relate what they heard. The whole thing could be wrapped up in an afternoon, and we’d have a much better idea of if the president of the United States ordered a military assault on American civilians.
That’s not all. An investigation such as this could be designed to determine if this episode reveals the need for institutional reforms.






For instance, Khanna pointed out, Congress could examine if additional transparency safeguards and checks on a president’s authority in such situations are needed. For instance, perhaps top military officials should be required to notify Congress in situations where something appears seriously amiss.

Such a reform effort, Khanna said, “should be something that people on both sides can agree on.” Khanna suggested this could be pursued almost as a fact-finding effort, to determine “what are the checks on presidential power against American citizens.”
These revelations might also shed light on another poorly understood, but extremely consequential, moment during the Trump presidency.
You might recall that at around that time — on June 1, 2020 — Esper and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accompanied Trump on his walk across Lafayette Square for a photo op in which the president held up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church. This was just after peaceful protesters had been forcibly removed from the area.











Esper and Milley were properly humiliated for participating in that charade. Each man put out highly unusual statements: Esper declared that using “active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a last resort.” Milley reminded members of the military that their first loyalty is to “defend the Constitution.”
It was an intense moment in the country’s history, and alarms were being raised from many directions. Yet it was not uncommon at the time to hear people saying liberals’ response to the photo op was overblown.
What Esper has revealed is that behind the scenes, officials were trying to contain a president who had gone off the rails. In other words, the alarmist reading of that day appears to have been correct.
We need to know more about this episode. Democrats in Congress should get to the bottom of it.
When Republicans were in charge of Congress under Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, there was no fake scandal too ridiculous for them to hold any number of hearings about. So why shouldn’t Democrats hold just one hearing about something legitimately scandalous that Trump appears to have done?

 

CarolinaHawkeye

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Feb 5, 2003
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Yet another member of the administration who observed crazy behavior, and did nothing. He saved his outrage for when he was writing a book.
He had a good point. Once they didn't get rid of him for his second impeachment, he was worried there would be someone take his place who would do his unlawful bidding.
 
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binsfeldcyhawk2

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Oct 13, 2006
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Yet another member of the administration who observed crazy behavior, and did nothing. He saved his outrage for when he was writing a book.
He didn't do "nothing".

He apparently talked Trump out of some pretty crazy shit.

I don't get folks going after folks like Birx or Esper when their replacements might have been more compliant with his wishes.

Resigning pretty much passes the buck to someone more likely to do his bidding.
 
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kwik44

HR Heisman
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Mar 6, 2003
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Why so worried about this guy? He got 'beat' by several million votes?
 

Titanhawk2

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Jul 14, 2011
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"KING: So you're there yesterday, and it is peaceful, and then something changes - right? - and it sort of sets people off.

SHAPIRO: Yeah. Yeah, it's - the city's 11:00 p.m. curfew approaches, and things just changed. It was just like some invisible switch got turned on, and the protest went from peaceful to chaotic. In Lafayette Square, somebody set a fire in a public restroom. And some people threw water bottles and flares and fireworks at the police, and the police fired concussion grenades and tear gas. In neighborhoods, by the way, around the city, people smashed the windows of stores and coffee shops and banks and office buildings."

Yeah, so something that might warrant a couple of rubber bullets at the butt
 

lucas80

HR King
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Jan 30, 2008
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He didn't do "nothing".

He apparently talked Trump out of some pretty crazy shit.

I don't get folks going after folks like Birx or Esper when their replacements might have been more compliant with his wishes.

Resigning pretty much passes the buck to someone more likely to do his bidding.
Faint praise. He allowed military careers to be wrecked because of a whim, or because someone simply answered a subpoena. He attempted to claw officers back to active duty to persecute them years after they retired, simply for talking ill of him. He interfered in the military justice system. He took money from military projects to fund his vanity wall. He allowed troops to be misused against protestors. He constantly demeaned the military. The list goes on and on. Talking him out of some crazy s*** is faint praise.
And, be clear, there was enough crazy s*** that Esper could have approached others about the 25th Amendment. The fact that Esper had to talk Trump out of crazy s***, or hide things from Trump. or operate with others in subterfuge to get things past the POTUS is frightening.
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

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Oct 13, 2006
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Faint praise. He allowed military careers to be wrecked because of a whim, or because someone simply answered a subpoena. He attempted to claw officers back to active duty to persecute them years after they retired, simply for talking ill of him. He interfered in the military justice system. He took money from military projects to fund his vanity wall. He allowed troops to be misused against protestors. He constantly demeaned the military. The list goes on and on. Talking him out of some crazy s*** is faint praise.
And, be clear, there was enough crazy s*** that Esper could have approached others about the 25th Amendment. The fact that Esper had to talk Trump out of crazy s***, or hide things from Trump. or operate with others in subterfuge to get things past the POTUS is frightening.
Absolutely....which means having rational folks in the administration was critically important.

It could have been much worse...