All 10 living former defense secretaries issue a warning to Trump over threats to use the military to dispute the election
- All 10 living former US defense secretaries — both Republicans and Democrats — wrote a Washington Post op-ed article urging President
Donald Trumpto refrain from using the military to interfere in the 2020 election.
- The signatories stressed that involving the military in election disputes could result in criminal charges.
- Trump has repeatedly suggested there may not be a peaceful transfer of power and is said to have entertained suggestions that the military step in to help him dispute the election.
Nearly a dozen former defense secretaries wrote a Washington Post op-ed article that was published Sunday warning President Donald Trump against trying to use the military to dispute the 2020 US election.
The article, titled "Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory," was signed by all 10 living former US defense secretaries, including two - Mark Esper and James Mattis - who served under President Donald Trump.The other signees were Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, and Ashton Carter, who served under Barack Obama; Robert Gates, who served under Obama and George W. Bush; William Cohen and William Perry, who served under Bill Clinton; Dick Cheney, who served under George H.W. Bush; and Donald Rumsfeld, who served first under Gerald Ford in 1975 and was later tapped for the role under George W. Bush.
"American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy," they wrote in The Post, adding that the administration should "refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.""The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived," the letter continued.
The former officials also cautioned that anyone found to be interfering in the election could be subject to criminal charges."Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful, and unconstitutional territory," they wrote. "Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic." The op-ed article offered a direct message to the acting secretary of defense, Christopher Miller, who in December halted meetings with President-elect Joe Biden's transition team. Miller has said meetings weren't canceled but had been delayed because of the holidays.
Biden's transition director, Yohannes Abraham, told Axios, however, that no holiday contingency plans had been made.
"Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break," he said."Acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller and his subordinates - political appointees, officers and civil servants - are each bound by oath, law, and precedent to facilitate the entry into office of the incoming administration, and to do so wholeheartedly," the Post article said. "They must also refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team."
Hagel, one of Obama's defense secretaries, told The Post on Sunday that he initially thought writing such an article would be an overreaction but then reconsidered.
"This is a fundamental element of our democracy, and it lands squarely in the responsibilities of defense officials," Hagel said. "I thought, in the end, that this was something that was important that we do."
Trump's inner circle has suggested imposing martial lawRumblings about Trump's desire to use the military to intervene in the election grew in September after Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by Congress what, if any, role the military should have in the election.
The idea was once again brought up by Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who appeared on the conservative channel Newsmax on December 18 to suggest that the military be brought in to "rerun" the election."He could order the, within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states," Flynn told the host Greg Kelly.
The New York Times reported that Trump asked about Flynn's idea during a meeting that included Flynn, the former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani.The Post op-ed article was published on the same day as The Post published a recorded conversation between Trump and Brad Raffensperger, the
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