As we approach the end of the 2020 election fracas, and with great uncertainty remaining as to just how things are going to play out in Washington DC over the next week or two, some in The Beltway are preparing for trouble.
First and foremost, there are concerns that extremists could be planning on creating chaos in the capital on January 6th, as President Trump looks to address a rally-like crowd in DC as Congress certifies the electoral college results. Groups like the “Proud Boys” have already indicated that they will be “incognito” at the event, which itself is a sign that trouble could be coming.
And, should the MAGA wing of the GOP fail to overturn the election results in Congress on that day, there would be only a few options left in Trump’s play to remain in power.
A number of DOD and military officials are now reminding US service members, (and President Trump), that the armed forces have no place in the deciding of elections.
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The 10 men, both Democrats and Republicans, signed on to an opinion article published Sunday in The Washington Post that implicitly questioned Trump’s willingness to follow his Constitutional duty to peacefully relinquish power on Jan. 20. Following the Nov. 3 election and subsequent recounts in some states, as well as unsuccessful court challenges, the outcome is clear, they wrote, while not specifying Trump in 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 against use of the military in any effort to change the outcome.
“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.”
The list was full of notable names, and was likely conjured by a major figure in the Republican Party.
The opinion article in 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 defense secretary; he resigned in 2018 and was succeeded by Esper, who was fired just days after the Nov. 3 election.
The Post reported that the idea for writing the opinion piece began with a conversation between Cheney and Eric Edelman, a retired ambassador and former senior Pentagon official, about how Trump might seek to use the military in coming days.
This is nothing new, with military leaders having long worked to remind the nation that American service members swear an oath to the Constitution, and that this oath supersedes the work of the Commander in Chief.
In either case, the letter serves as a warning to all Americans that this week could be a strange and sensational one.
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