Defense

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

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.

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 Trump 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.

“I have to see,” Trump told Fox News’s Chris Wallace 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 Biden 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 Noah.”

Tags 2020 campaign 2020 elections Chris Wallace Constitution Defense Department Defense One Donald Trump Election Day Joe Biden Trevor Noah

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