Esper: Miller wanted "quarter-million troops" for migrant caravan

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Trump Defense caput connected "ridiculous" borderline program

Trump Defense caput connected "ridiculous" borderline plan 02:33

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says helium personally killed a "ridiculous" program from White House advisor Stephen Miller to deploy 250,000 troops to the confederate borderline arsenic a migrant caravan approached. Esper, who writes astir the infinitesimal successful his upcoming book, "A Sacred Oath," says helium initially thought Miller was joking erstwhile helium asked for the troops portion waiting successful the Oval Office.

"We're successful a meeting, waiting for the president to travel out," Esper tells Norah O'Donnell for an interrogation airing this Sunday connected "60 Minutes," "We're lasting astir the Resolute Desk. And he's down me. And this dependable conscionable starts talking astir caravans are coming. And, 'We request to get troops to the border.' And, 'We request a quarter-million troops.' And I deliberation he's joking. And past I crook astir and I look astatine him and these-- and these deadpan eyes. Clearly, helium is not joking."

60-markesperenthursdaysot-10.jpg Mark Esper

Esper, who served arsenic President Trump's 2nd caput of defense, says helium told Miller the Department of Homeland Security could grip immoderate caravans, arsenic they had done successful the past. 

"He repeats, 'No, we request a quarter-million troops,'" Esper says. "And I conscionable crook squarely astir to him, look him, and say, 'I don't person a 4th cardinal troops to nonstop connected immoderate ridiculous ngo to the border.'"

But Esper says the program that Miller had been pushing was already successful motion.

"I told this communicative to General Milley and my main of staff," Esper says. "I said, 'Let's beryllium safe. Let's conscionable cheque and marque definite that this isn't being worked determination successful the building.' And Milley comes backmost days aboriginal and the doorway opens up and he's waving a papers that's successful hand."

"And helium says thing like, 'secretary, you're not gonna judge this.' And that's erstwhile helium explains to maine that, yes, they were working. That we had developed a plan, archetypal conception of however this mightiness happen," Esper tells O'Donnell. "And I was conscionable flabbergasted that, not lone was the thought proposed, but that people-- radical successful my section were moving connected it."

Esper inactive laughs astatine the idea.

"It's conscionable truthful absurd," Esper says. "I can't adjacent see it. I mean, again, we don't person 250,000 troops to nonstop to the border. And to bash what? It's conscionable ridiculous."

Miller declined to remark erstwhile reached by CBS News.

"Whatever happened to that program to deploy a 4th cardinal troops to the borderline with Mexico?" O'Donnell asks Esper.

"Well, it died," Esper says. "I gave General Milley circumstantial acquisition to archer NORTHCOM, Northern Command, to halt moving connected it, to cease and desist. And that if anybody had immoderate questions, you archer them they should telephone maine direct. I ne'er got a telephone call."

"It was dormant and it died, arsenic it should," Esper says.

O'Donnell's interrogation with Esper volition aerial Sunday nighttime connected "60 Minutes."

In: Mark Esper Donald Trump

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