Pentagon dismisses 'unserious' debate over potential military involvement in any post-election dispute

Pentagon dismisses 'unserious' debate over potential military involvement in any post-election dispute
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The Pentagon on Thursday dismissed talk of potential military involvement in any post-election dispute, calling the debate "unserious thought."

“We have a Constitution, and our Constitution, which all members of the military have sworn an oath to, provides no role for the U.S. military as arbiter of political or election disputes,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said at a press briefing.

“This issue appears to be borne of unserious thought reflecting a fundamental lack of appreciation for the history of our democracy and the civilian-military relationship established under our Constitution,” he added.

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Pressed further if the military was prepared to provide support to civilian authorities in the event of post-election unrest, Hoffman called the scenario “hypothetical” and referred back to his previous comment.

Hoffman's comments come after a debate was sparked this week by two retired Army officers who wrote an open letter to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley saying he must order the military to remove President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE from office if he loses in November and refuses to leave.

“If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order,” John Nagl and Paul Yingling wrote in the open letter published by Defense One on Tuesday.

That prompted op-eds, tweets and other pushback calling the letter dangerously irresponsible and arguing civilian authorities, including the courts and federal law enforcement, would be responsible in the unprecedented event that Trump does not accept the election results.

Trump has raised the prospect that he won’t accept the results in November, claiming that mail-in voting could lead to widespread voter fraud despite no supporting evidence.

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“I have to see,” Trump told Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceGOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power Trump mocks Biden for calling 'a lid' before 9 a.m. Trump claims Fox anchor Chris Wallace won't ask Biden 'tough questions' at debate MORE last month when asked if he would accept the Election Day results. “No, I’m not just going to say yes, I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”

In June, Trump said he’d peacefully leave the White House if he’s defeated, saying he would “go on, do other things.”

Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Fox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio MORE said in June that he’s "absolutely convinced" the military would step in if Trump rejected the results.

"I promise, I am absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch," Biden said on "The Daily Show with Trevor NoahTrevor NoahFauci: 'Divisive nature' in US hampering coronavirus response Ted Cruz: 'Many liberal males never grow balls' Overnight Defense: House chair announces contempt proceeding against Pompeo | Top general says military has no role in election disputes | Appeal court rejects due process rights for Gitmo detainees MORE."