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Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared on CBS’ Face The Nation (05/15/22) to discuss his new book “A Sacred Oath”, which chronicles his time in the Trump administration. During his interview however, there was an interesting, even awkward exchange about the infamous Lafayette Square incident, that left viewers wondering whether he, or former Attorney General William Barr, or both, were lying to the public about the incident. Specifically, Esper told host Margaret Brennan that former President Trump did indeed request 10,000 active duty troops to deal with the BLM protesters at Lafayette Square even though at his earlier appearance on the same show, with the same host, former AG Barr had called such claims “completely false.”
How can two senior officials of the Trump administration(SecDef & AG), who were both present at a seminal moment in the administration(Lafayette Square protests), end up with a polar opposite recollections of the same event? Who’s lying?
Host Margaret Brennan(video at 3:50): “You(Esper) talk about, and have spoken quite a lot this past week about the events in Lafayette Square, and it’s an important bit of the public record. You were in the Oval Office with the President, and he spoke about a very specific number, 10,000 of active duty troops potentially being sent into the streets of Washington DC. I want to play a clip for you here, because I asked the then Attorney General Bill Barr about exactly that..[plays clip with AG Barr, where he calls such claims ‘completely false’]…”
Margaret Brennan: “Why do you seem to have different recollections?”
Mark Esper: “I don’t know. I wrote about this in my book that Bill Barr and I have different recollections. Of course if you go through my story you’ll understand that the President calls into the Pentagon earlier that morning and talks about 10,000 troops. That’s when I’m first made aware of this request. Look, I don’t know why we have different recollections. I think in all these cases people hear or see different things, but I’m 110% confident of what the President was seeking that morning.”
Reasonable people will agree that these two dramatically different accounts of the same Lafayette Square event cannot both be true. Someone is clearly lying here. Who is it?
Bottom line folks, this new phenomenon of Washington insiders sitting on information of great public interest, only to release them after lucrative book deals, is getting out of control. Both Esper and Barr have written books about their experiences in the Trump administration, and have presumably been rewarded handsomely for the books. The public however is still left hanging on the question as to whether Trump requested active duty troops to deal with the Lafayette Square protests. What public good do these “bombshell” books serve?
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