New book claims Trump suggested shooting protesters 'in the legs or something'

Mark Esper.
(Image credit: PAUL HANDLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

Ex-Defense Secretary Mark Esper alleges in a memoir out next week that former President Donald Trump suggested shooting Washington, D.C. demonstrators "in the legs" as they protested George Floyd's death in the summer of 2020, Axios reports Monday.

"Can't you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?" Trump reportedly asked, per Esper's A Sacred Oath.

The ex-official wrote that the moment "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."

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The memoir was "vetted at the highest levels of the Pentagon," reports Axios' Mike Allen. "I'm told that as part of the clearance process, the book was reviewed in whole or in part by nearly three dozen 4-star generals, senior civilians, and some Cabinet members."

Esper's account also seems to confirm what The New York Times' Michael Bender reported last year in his book Frankly, We Did Win This Election, Rolling Stone notes. Per Bender's reporting, Trump said he wanted the military to "beat the f--k" out of the racial justice protesters in D.C. and said "just shoot them" on multiple occasions.

Trump fired Esper after the 2020 election.

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