- Trump yelled ‘I don’t give a fuck’ at his defense secretary in a blowup over the George Floyd protests, new book says.
- Secretary Mark Esper publicly shot down Trump’s desire to invoke the Insurrection Act.
- Trump yelled “you took away my authority!” at Esper for opposing active-duty troops helping control protests.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Former President Donald Trump exploded at then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper, yelling, “I don’t give a fuck about your fucking transcript!” after Esper threw cold water on his desire to quell protests with military force, according to a new book.
Authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa revealed more details of profanity-laden blowups between Trump and top officials in the military in their forthcoming book “Peril,” set to be published on September 21.
Trump was insistent on a strong military show of force in response to protests and civil unrest over the murder of George Floyd.
In particular, Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, which would allow him to deploy troops to quash the protesters. He especially wanted the elite 82nd Airborne division (whose specialty is crisis response, often by parachuting into hostile areas – not civil disturbance and crowd control), a suggestion military leaders weren’t keen to go along with.
Esper, in a press conference the day before, clearly stated that his opposition to the idea, telling reporters that active-duty forces “should only be used as a matter of last resort, and in the most urgent and dire of situations.”
“We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act,” he said.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, according to the book, called Esper immediately after to warn him that Trump was “really pissed” and “is going to eat your face off.”
Meadows’ prediction came through the next day in a tense meeting at the Oval Office, when Trump unloaded on Esper, shouting “why did you do that?” and “you took away my authority!”
Esper explained that he wasn’t trying to usurp Trump’s authority and produced a physical transcript of his exact remarks, which only enraged Trump more, the book said.
“I don’t give a fuck about your fucking transcript!” Trump shot back, according to the book.
Trump then yelled: “You’re all fucked up! Everybody! You’re all fucked. Every one of you is fucked up!” at the room according to “Peril” and the book “I Alone Can Fix It,” published in July.
Going into that meeting, both Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were resentful and somewhat shaken that Trump brought them along for his infamous walk across Lafayette Plaza to take a photo holding a Bible upside-down at the historic St. John’s church. Moments prior, federal agents cleared the plaza of peaceful protesters by beating them and firing smoke canisters and tear-gas agents.
Esper, when he fully realized what was going on, told Milley, who was dressed in his military fatigues, they had been “duped” and were being “used” as political pawns, contrary to the military’s strictly nonpartisan mission.
Milley, according to the authors, called it “fucked up,” saying to his security lead, “we’re getting the fuck out of here. I’m fucking done with this shit.”
Shortly thereafter, Milley publicly apologized for his presence, saying he “should not have been there,” and calling the episode “a mistake.”