Donald Trump’s former defense secretary slammed his ex-boss on Wednesday, calling him “unfit for office” a day after the 45th president announced the launch of his 2024 campaign.
“I think he’s unfit for office,” Mark Esper said of the 76-year-old Trump in an interview with CNN.
“He puts himself before country,” the former Pentagon chief continued, adding, “To me that’s shortcoming number one, and then I believe he has integrity and character issues as well.”
Esper went on to describe one of those “character issues” as Trump’s difficulty with telling the truth, and said that he believes Americans desire a more trustworthy commander in chief.
“I don’t think he’s an honest person. We saw the falsehoods that came out of his remarks last night … Americans need a leader they can trust,” Esper said.
Like many who watched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago announcement, the former Army officer panned Trump’s Tuesday speech.
“I thought his remarks were very subdued and uninspiring,” Esper said.
The former secretary of defense also blamed Trump for the Republican Party’s failure to make more gains in Congress and state offices in the midterm elections.
“The election last week is an example that Donald Trump is incapable of winning elections,” Esper said. “He’s done more to help the Democrats than the Republicans.”
Esper, who was fired from his post after Trump lost the 2020 election, called on Republicans and Democrats to both find new party standard-bearers.
“I think that it’s time for the Republican Party, and frankly, both parties, to move on to a next generation of leaders, and particularly leaders that can unify our country and get us back to a more normal governance where we treat each other with dignity and respect, and we work on policy issues and not personal attacks,” Esper said
Esper hailed recent Trump foe, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as one of those in the “next generation” that look like promising presidential candidates.
“He did a great job in Florida. He brought more Hispanics on board. He appears to me to be the frontrunner,” Esper said.
“But I think we need to have a primary to see who emerges and who can really, again, rally Republicans, grow the base, and really reach to Independents out there across the country.”