Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, making the media rounds before his book release, said in interview excerpts released on Thursday that he was “flabbergasted” by a Trump official’s proposal in spring 2020 to send as many as 250,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the “60 Minutes” interview, Esper recounted an exchange with Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to then-President Donald Trump and the architect behind the president’s immigration agenda. Miller had suggested the U.S. send a quarter-million troops — what would have been the largest use of the military inside the country since the Civil War — to handle “caravans” at the southern border, Esper said.
“I think he’s joking,” the former Defense secretary said in the interview with CBS’ Norah O’Donnell set to air on Sunday. “And then I turn around, and I look at him in these deadpan eyes. It’s clear that he is not joking. And so I say something like, ‘Well, look, DHS can handle whatever caravans are coming up. They’ve done so in the past.’ He said — he repeats — ‘No, we need a quarter-million troops,’ and