At the height of nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd, then-President Donald Trump asked if authorities could just shoot Black Lives Matter protesters who had taken to the streets of Washington, D.C. DC and elsewhere, according to a new brief.
The account comes from former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, whose memoir was cited by Axios on Monday.
“Can’t you just shoot them?” Just shoot them in the legs or something? Trump asked the protesters, according to Axios’ report on Esper’s book.
On June 1, 2020, protesters around Lafayette Square near the White House were cleared by law enforcement so that Trump and several senior administration officials could hold their now infamous photo op outside a church. , during which Trump showed a Bible for the camera. Esper was one of those officials.
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Trump’s question, Esper reportedly wrote, came that week. According to Axios, he wrote that it was “surreal, sitting outside the Resolute desk, inside the Oval Office, with this idea hanging heavy in the air, and the president red-faced and loudly complaining about the protests in classes in Washington, DC »
“The good news – it wasn’t a difficult decision,” the former defense secretary added. “The bad news – I had to find a way to back Trump down without creating the mess I was trying to avoid. »
On June 1, authorities did not use live ammunition to clear the crowds, but did use tear gas. The show of force came after reports that Trump had been hiding in a White House bunker days earlier in response to the protests.
Esper claimed in a congressional hearing the following month that he did not know who gave the order to clean up the area.