The madness of President Trump’s final days continues.
In a scenario that seems impossible for the once great democracy of the United States, a rogue US president who has refused to vacate the White House after being voted out of office has been warned to back off, and not attempt a military coup.
In the extraordinary move, all 10 living former secretaries of defense attached their names to a strongly worded Washington Post op-ed Sunday, warning President Donald Trump not to involve the military in his attempts to challenge and overturn the election results, Military.com reported.
The former Pentagon chiefs, including retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis and the recently-fired Mark Esper, said in the piece that the elections were conducted fairly and the results have survived numerous court challenges alleging voter fraud.
All this despite Trump’s repeated unhinged conspiracy allegations that the election was stolen from him — a development that has alarmed political onlookers.
“As senior Defense Department leaders have noted, ‘there’s no role for the US military in determining the outcome of a US election,'” the op-ed said, a possible reference to statements by Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley that service members take an oath to the Constitution, not an individual, Military.com reported.
“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 group wrote.
“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 op-ed was authored by Mattis, Esper, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Robert Gates, William Perry and Ashton Carter, Military.com reported.
Mattis resigned as defense secretary in December 2018 following Trump’s surprise announcement of troop withdrawals from Syria; Esper, who opposed Trump on using active-duty troops to quell civil unrest, was fired by Trump in November.
Cohen, who served as SecDef from 1997 to 2001 in the Clinton administration, told CNN that he and his colleagues were prompted to write the op-ed out of concern that the military will be used to overturn the election, Military.com reported.
“We felt it incumbent on us” to speak out, he said. “It’s unpatriotic what the president is trying to do.”
In the op-ed, the group wrote that involving the military in election disputes would pull the nation 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,” it continued.
Congress is set to convene Wednesday to certify electoral college results showing Biden defeating Trump 306 to 232, the same margin by which Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The certification session in the past has been a brief and perfunctory affair. But at least 11 wayward Republican senators and a number of House Republicans have announced their intentions to challenge the results.
Also, Trump has urged his radical supporters to rally in Washington, tweeting: “Be there, will be wild!”
The far right Proud Boys are expected to be among the pro-Trump crowd in the capital.
Cohen told the Post he was concerned by the mention of the possibility of martial law by the former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, especially after Trump’s use of the military and other federal forces to remove protesters outside the White House in June.
“It’s a very dangerous course of action that needs to be called out before it happens,” Cohen said.
— with files from The Guardian