A day ahead of the Congressional vote certification, 10 former Defense Secretaries penned an op-ed warning Donald Trump of involving the military in any election fraud disputes.
The piece was published Monday (January 4) in The Washington Post and includes the signatures of both Democrats and Republicans, including Mark Esper and James Mattis who both worked in Trump’s administration.
The op-ed was penned after supporters of Trump called for military forces to be used in a last-stitch effort to overturn November’s election that Joe Biden won. While the article doesn’t name Trump specifically, it offers a clear warning about leveraging the military in the election process:
“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the Electoral College has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed,” the op-ed reads.
“Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” the group wrote.
The other eight secretaries who sign the op-ed are Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, William Perry, and Donald Rumsfeld.
The private talks were confirmed by six retired military leaders who told Newsweek that “while there is zero chance that uniformed leadership would involve itself in any scheme to create an election-related reversal,” they worry that pro-Trump militias and other splinter groups could threaten a peaceful transfer of power on Inauguration Day.
The clear warning from military officials comes after reports of meeting Trump had to discuss final pathways to overturn the election results and block Biden from entering the White House. Trump denied the meeting in a tweet, but retired and active military leaders are taking a strong, united stance on the matter.
“There is no role for the US military in determining the outcome of an American election,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff James McConville wrote in a statement.
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