In a rare rebuke of President Donald Trump, all 10 residing former secretaries of protection cautioned Sunday in opposition to any transfer to contain the army in pursuing claims of election fraud, arguing that it might take the nation into “dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory.”
The 10 males, each Democrats and Republicans, signed on to an opinion article revealed in The Washington Post that implicitly questioned Trump’s willingness to comply with his Constitutional obligation to peacefully relinquish energy on January 20.
Following the Nov. 3 election and subsequent recounts in some states, in addition to unsuccessful courtroom challenges, the end result is evident, they wrote, whereas not specifying Trump within the article.
“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,” they wrote.
The former Pentagon chiefs warned in opposition to using the army in an effort to vary the end result.
“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.”
Quite a few senior army officers, together with Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have stated publicly in latest weeks that the army has no function in figuring out the end result of US elections and that their loyalty is to the Constitution, to not a person chief or a political celebration.
The 10 former Pentagon leaders additionally warned of their Post article of the risks of impeding a full and easy transition at Defense Department previous to Inauguration Day as a part of a switch to energy to President-elect Joe Biden. Biden has complained of efforts by Trump-appointed Pentagon officers to hinder the transition.
Without mentioning a selected instance, the previous protection secretaries wrote that transfers of energy “often occur at times of international uncertainty about US national security policy and posture,” including, “They can be a moment when the nation is vulnerable to actions by adversaries seeking to take advantage of the situation.”
Tensions with Iran symbolize simply such a second. Sunday marked one yr for the reason that US killing of Qassem Soleimani, the highest Iranian normal; Iran has vowed to avenge the killing, and US officers stated in latest days that they’re on heightened alert for potential Iranian assault on US forces or pursuits within the Middle East.
In an additional signal of US-Iranian rigidity, the performing secretary of protection, Christopher Milller, introduced Sunday night that he has modified his thoughts about sending the Navy plane provider, the USS Nimitz, house from the Middle East and as an alternative will hold the vessel on obligation. Just final week, Miller introduced that he was sending the Nimitz house, a call that had been opposed by senior army officers.
In reversing himself, Miller cited “recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other US government officials.” He didn’t elaborate, and the Pentagon didn’t reply to questions.
The opinion article within the Post was signed by Dick Cheney, William Perry, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Ash Carter, James Mattis and Mark Esper. Mattis was Trump’s first protection secretary; he resigned in 2018 and was succeeded by Esper, who was fired simply days after the Nov. 3 election.
The Post reported that the concept for writing the opinion piece started with a dialog between Cheney and Eric Edelman, a retired ambassador and former senior Pentagon official, about how Trump may search to make use of the army in coming days.