Mark Esper spent over 15 months as Secretary of Defense in Donald Trump’s administration, but that didn’t stop the former president from lashing out his ex-Pentagon chief.

During a speech at the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) Hispanic Leadership Conference in Miami, Trump complained about a passage Esper’s book A Sacred Oath, published in the spring.

“President Donald J. Trump in 2020 asked Mark T. Esper, his defense secretary, about the possibility of launching missiles into Mexico to “destroy the drug labs” and wipe out the cartels, maintaining that the United States’ involvement in a strike against its southern neighbor could be kept secret, Mr. Esper recounts in his upcoming memoir,” Maggie Haberman reported for The New York Times in May. “When Mr. Esper raised various objections, Mr. Trump said that ‘we could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs, quietly,’ adding that “no one would know it was us.” Mr. Trump said he would just say that the United States had not conducted the strike, Mr. Esper recounts, writing that he would have thought it was a joke had he not been staring Mr. Trump in the face.”

Patriot missiles are the primary surface-to-air missile used by the U.S. military, which is designed as anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile interceptors. As there are no reports of airborne drug labs in Mexican air space, experts panned Trump’s comments.

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“I was told that somebody leaked,” Trump said. “You know, they leak when they get paid a lot of money.”

He complained about the difficulty of getting pro-Trump books published, even though his picture book was published by a new published co-founded by Donald Trump, Jr.

“But they leaked that I wanted to hit the cartels with missiles,” Trump said. “When they leak on my administration, some people think it’s so glamorous, it’s so great. So it’s a little bit different, but they leaked out that I wanted to hit them with Patriot missiles.”

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