All 10 currently living ex-Defense Secretaries — two of whom served in the Trump administration — have banded together with a new op-ed in The Washington Post in which they insist upon the critical importance of an orderly transfer of power between presidential administrations without any military involvement in dealing with election-related challenges like those which outgoing President Donald Trump and his allies have raised. Top Trump ally Michael Flynn, who once served as Trump’s national security adviser, has openly called for a declaration of martial law and military administration of a new presidential election — a treacherous idea.
Every living former defense secretary, including Cheney and Trump's two ex-Pentagon chiefs Mattis and Esper: "Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory." https://t.co/4tvyhxBsHw
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) January 3, 2021
The ex-Defense Secretaries who collaborated on the new Washington Post piece include Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, William Perry, and Donald Rumsfeld, who have served in both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations. Mattis and Esper served in the Trump administration, the latter of whom Trump fired shortly after Election Day, leaving Christopher C. Miller in charge as acting Defense Secretary until the Biden administration takes over.
In the Washington Post article, the ex-officials said as follows:
‘As former secretaries of defense, we hold a common view of the solemn obligations of the U.S. armed forces and the Defense Department. Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party… The time for questioning [election] results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived… Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. 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 ex-officials added that presidential transitions “are a crucial part of the successful transfer of power,” saying that they “call upon” individuals currently at the Department “in the strongest terms, to do as so many generations of Americans have done before them” and facilitate a peaceful and effective transition of power.
With the egomaniacal Trump at the helm of the government, the transition has been chaotic. Trump still refuses to acknowledge the basic reality of his election loss. Nevertheless, he will be leaving the White House by the end of this month, whether he acknowledges this reality or not.