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Washington Post editorial from DOD secretaries warns of military use

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Washington Post editorial from DOD secretaries warns of military use 2



President
Trump’s Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said in September:
“In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by
law, US courts and the US Congress are required to resolve any
disputes, not the US military.”

AP
Photo/Patrick Semansky


Summary List Placement

Nearly a dozen former defense secretaries published a
Washington Post editorial
on Sunday, warning President Donald
Trump of the dangers of using the military to dispute the
election. 

The editorial, titled “Involving the military in election
disputes would cross into dangerous territory,” was signed by all
ten living former defense secretaries, including two who served
under President Trump, Mark Esper and James Mattis.

Other signees included 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 as
DOD secretary 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. 

The letter urged the president to accept the results of the
election and stressed that the military should not be used to
fulfill political ends. 

“American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that
result are hallmarks of our democracy,” they wrote in The Washington
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 secretaries also cautioned that anyone found to be
interfering in the election could potentially 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 editorial offered a direct message to Acting Secretary of
Defense Christopher Miller, who in December halted meetings with
President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team. Miller claimed
meetings weren’t canceled, but had been delayed because of the
holidays. 

Biden 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 editorial 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 DOD secretaries,
told the Post
on Sunday that he initially thought writing
such an editorial 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 law

Rumblings about Trump’s desire to use the military to intervene
in the election began in September after Trump refused to commit
to a
“peaceful transfer of power.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark
Milley was asked by Congress what, if any, role the military
should have in the election.

“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical US military,”

Milley said
. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of
the elections, by law, US courts and the US Congress are required
to resolve any disputes, not the US military. I foresee no role
for the US armed forces in this process.”

The idea was once again brought up by Trump’s former national
security adviser 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.
It’s not unprecedented,”
Flynn told
host Greg Kelley. 

During a meeting with
Flynn, former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, and Rudy
Giuliani the following day,
Trump asked about Flynn’s idea,
The New York Times
reported
.

Trump dismissed the claims as
“fake news.”

The Post editorial comes amidst the release of a recorded
conversation between Trump and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in
which the president
repeatedly pressured Kemp to void the state’s election
results
and “find 1,780 votes, which is one more than we
have.”

President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by a margin of 11,779
votes.

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