By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper claims that then President Donald Trump, complaining about those protesting the death of George Floyd in May 2020, asked “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?”

According to Axios, Esper’s claims appear in his new book, “A Sacred Oath,” which reporter Mike Allen says was vetted by four-star generals, senior civilians, and Cabinet members.

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Floyd’s death in Minneapolis led to widespread protests and rioting across the country and the world at large. Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who held his knee down on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Three other former officers — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — have also been convicted on a number of charges in connection with Floyd’s death.

Trump posted a number of incendiary things on his social media accounts as protests in Minneapolis reached a fever pitch, with crowds gathering around the police department’s third precinct building, which eventually was burned and looted.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd and I won’t let that happen,” Trump wrote. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts the shooting starts!”

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In his book, Esper said that Trump was heard complaining loudly about the protests.

“I had to figure out a way to walk Trump back without creating the mess I was trying to avoid,” he’s quoted as saying.

In June 2020, Trump signed an executive order to encourage better police practices and establish a database to track officers with excessive use-of-force complaints.

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Trump’s Twitter and Facebook accounts would ultimately be shut down by the social media companies, in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.