Former President Donald Trump suggested protesters in Washington, D.C. denouncing police brutality back in the spring of 2020 should be shot, according to former Defense Secretary Mark Esper.\r\n\r\nThe revelation scooped by Axios Monday comes in Esper\u0026#039;s memoir—A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times—to be released May 10.\r\n\r\nReferencing the protesters outside the White House the first week of June 2020, Trump asked: \u0022Can\u0026#039;t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?\u0022\r\n\r\nThe moment inside the Oval Office was \u0022surreal,\u0022 writes Esper, who describes Trump as \u0022red faced and complaining loudly about the protests under way in Washington, D.C.\u0022\r\n\r\nEsper writes that he wanted to \u0022figure out a way to walk Trump back without creating the mess I was trying to avoid.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe allegation in Esper\u0026#039;s memoir mirrors one laid out last year in then-Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender\u0026#039;s book Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.\r\n\r\n\u0022Crack their skulls!\u0022 Trump told his top law enforcement and military officials as to how to respond to the June 2020 protesters, according to Bender\u0026#039;s book.\r\n\r\n\u0022Just shoot them,\u0022 Trump reportedly said multiple times in the Oval Office, Bender\u0026#039;s book charges. Then, after pushback from then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and then-Attorney General William Barr, Trump said, \u0022Well, shoot them in the leg—or maybe the foot.\u0022\r\n\r\nAt the start of June 2020, Trump publicly threatened to use the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy the military to U.S. cities to suppress nationwide demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd.\r\n\r\n\u0022If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,\u0022 said Trump.\r\n\r\nDays later, Esper rebuffed the then-president\u0026#039;s call, saying at a Pentagon press briefing that \u0022the option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022We are not in one of those situations now,\u0022 he said. \u0022I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.\u0022\r\n\r\nFive months later, Trump fired Esper, announcing the news in a tweet.\r\n\r\nEsper, NPR reported at the time, had \u0022earned the derogatory nickname \u0026#039;Yesper\u0026#039; for seemingly acquiescing or remaining silent over the president\u0026#039;s kneejerk moves. Those ranged from reducing U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Syria with little or no deliberation to stopping Pentagon efforts to rename military bases named after Confederate generals.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe ex-defense chief, however, has rejected the characterization.