Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Thursday on CNN’s “The Lead” that then-President Donald Trump instigated the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol to undermine a free and fair election and the peaceful transfer of power.
Esper said: “I think it’s important at the end of the day that the January 6 Committee get to the bottom of what happened and understand it, make sure there’s accountability and figure out how we let’s prevent this from happening again. It was a tragic day in the history of our nation.
Anchor Jake Tapper asked, “We have learned in the past few days that Kevin McCarthy at some point was thinking or discussing invoking the 25th Amendment which allows a president to be removed from office. He was doing this in the days following January 6. He finally concluded that it would take too long. There are recordings of him saying that. In your book, you said you never believed that Trump’s conduct had risen to the level necessary to invoke the 25th Amendment while you were in cabinet. If you had been Secretary of Defense in the days following January 6 and it had come to a vote, would you have voted to remove him from office? »
Esper said, “You know, I don’t know. You have to be there in the moment to understand and assess the situation and have a chance to, you know, watch the president under fire in that moment. Obviously what he did was contrary to what we believe in as a democracy. He undermined the election for weeks. He enticed people to come to DC, waved them off that morning, and didn’t call them back. In my opinion, this undermines our democracy, the hallmark of which is free and fair election and the peaceful transfer of power.
He added: “So, you know, I don’t know where I would have left off, but I would have taken a serious look at it, and I think I made the right judgment.”
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