Top general: ‘Zero’ role for US military in electoral disputes

Greg Nash

The top general in the United States said he sees “zero” role for the U.S. military in resolving any disputed election in an interview that aired Monday morning.

“This isn’t the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said in an interview with NPR. “And if there is, it’ll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the U.S. Congress. There’s no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. Zero. There is no role there.”

Milley gave the interview from his home in Virginia as he continues quarantining after exposure to the coronavirus.

Milley has previously told Congress he saw no role for the military in resolving any electoral disputes.

But his latest comments come as President Trump has continued to refuse to say he will accept the results of November’s election or commit to a peaceful transition of power.

Casting doubt on the integrity of mail-in ballots despite no evidence of widespread fraud, Trump in a White House press briefing last month said “we’re going to have to see what happens” when asked to commit to a peaceful transition of power.

The next day the White House said Trump would accept the results of a “free and fair election” but continued to rail against mail-in ballots, keeping the question alive on whether Trump will consider this election “free and fair.”

Trump sowing doubt about the election comes amid a backdrop of him repeatedly using or threatening to use the military in domestic issues.

Over the summer, Trump threatened to deploy active-duty troops to quell widespread protests against racial injustice and police violence. The threat was met with fierce opposition at the Pentagon and not carried out.

During the protests in June, Milley came under some criticism for accompanying Trump on a photo-op to a church across from the White House. Milley was wearing battle fatigues, and the photo-op came after federal law enforcement forcibly cleared the area of protesters. Milley later apologized for being part of the incident.

In the NPR interview, Milley held the military staying out of domestic politics is “very, very deeply rooted into the very essence” of the United States.

“I’m very confident in the resilience of the American institutions and the American government and the American people’s adherence to the principles of rules of law,” he said. “And we, the military, stay out of domestic politics — very, very deeply rooted into the very essence of our republic.”

“If there’s a disputed election, that’ll be handled by Congress and the courts,” he added. “And I’m quite confident that that will be the case this time around, as it has been several times before.”

Tags 2020 election Donald Trump mail-in voting Mark Milley Military Transfer of power

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