10 former Pentagon chiefs warn Trump on involving navy in pursuing election claims

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WASHINGTON — In a rare rebuke of President Donald Trump, all 10 dwelling former secretaries of protection are cautioning towards any transfer to contain the navy 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 Sunday in The Washington Post that implicitly questioned Trump’s willingness to comply with his constitutional obligation to peacefully relinquish energy on Jan. 20. Following the Nov. three election and subsequent recounts in some states, in addition to unsuccessful court docket 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.

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he speaks with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn during a town hall, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, in Virginia Beach, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, file)

The former Pentagon chiefs warned towards use of the navy in any effort to alter the end result.

“Efforts to involve the U.S. 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 navy officers, together with Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have mentioned publicly in current weeks that the navy has no position in figuring out the end result of U.S. elections and that their loyalty is to the Constitution, to not a person chief or a political get together.

The 10 former Pentagon leaders additionally warned of their Post article of the hazards of impeding a full and clean 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 impede the transition.

In this Dec. 15, 2006, file photo, outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, shakes hands with Vice President Dick Cheney during an Armed Forces Full Honor Review for Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
In this Dec. 15, 2006, file photograph, outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, shakes fingers with Vice President Dick Cheney throughout an Armed Forces Full Honor Review for Rumsfeld on the Pentagon. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Without mentioning a selected instance, the previous protection secretaries wrote that transfers of energy “often occur at times of international uncertainty about U.S. 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 12 months for the reason that U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, the highest Iranian basic; Iran has vowed to avenge the killing, and U.S. officers mentioned in current days that they’re on heightened alert for potential Iranian assault on U.S. forces or pursuits within the Middle East.

In an extra signal of U.S.-Iranian rigidity, the performing secretary of protection, Christopher Milller, introduced Sunday night that he has modified his thoughts about sending the Navy plane provider USS Nimitz home from the Middle East and as a substitute will preserve the vessel on obligation. Just final week, Miller introduced that he was sending the Nimitz home, a choice that had been opposed by senior navy officers.

In reversing himself, Miller cited “recent threats issued by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other U.S. 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. three election.

The Post reported that the thought 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 would possibly search to make use of the navy in coming days.

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