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Former Defense Sec. Mark Esper Says Trump Shouldn’t Be Trusted With National Security Information

On Sunday, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper criticized Donald Trump’s handling of sensitive national security secrets.

Earlier in the month, Trump was indicted on 37 counts for mishandling and hiding national security information after his exit from the White House. He was also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and falsifying statements to officials from the Department of Justice. The former president was arrested and arraigned last week at the Miami federal courthouse, where he pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Trump chose Esper to serve as Defense Secretary in June 2019 and fired him in November 2020. Esper has since expressed his disapproval of some of Trump’s policies and plans while he was president.

On Sunday, Esper drew comparisons between Trump’s case and that of Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guard member who was recently indicted for posting sensitive military documents on social media. Esper emphasized the severity of these breaches of security.

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“Imagine if a foreign agent, another country were to discover documents that outline America’s vulnerabilities or the weaknesses of the United States military,” Esper said on CNN’s State of the Union. “Think about how that could be exploited, how that could be used against us in a conflict, how an enemy could develop countermeasures… Or in the case of the most significant piece that was raised in the allegation about U.S. plans to attack Iran, think about how that affects our readiness, or ability to prosecute an attack.”

When asked if he thought Trump could be trusted with national secrets, should he be elected president in 2024, Esper said no.

“Based on his actions, if proven true, under the indictment by the special counsel, no… It’s just irresponsible action that places our service members at risk, places our nation’s security at risk. You cannot have these documents floating around,” said Esper.

Trump has made it clear that he will not be dropping out of the 2024 presidential race. District Judge Aileen Cannon has set a tentative date of August 14, 2023, for the start of Trump’s trial.

Ava Lombardi

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