Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us 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. — All 10 living former defense secretaries
Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us 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. — All 10 living former defense secretaries
All 10 living former defense secretaries issue a warning to Trump over threats to use the military to dispute the election
  • All ten living former defense secretaries — both Republicans and Democrats — wrote a Washington Post editorial urging President Donald Trump to refrain from using the military to interfere in the election.
  • The signatories stressed that involving the military in election disputes could result in criminal charges.
  • Trump has repeatedly suggested that there may not be a "peaceful transfer of power" and has reportedly entertained suggestions that the military step in to help him dispute the election.
The editorial, titled "Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory," was signed by all ten living former defense secretaries, including two who served under President Trump, Mark Esper and James Mattis.

Other signees included Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, and Ashton Carter, who served under Barack Obama; Robert Gates, who served under Obama and George W. Bush; William Cohen and William Perry, who served under Bill Clinton; Dick Cheney, who served as DOD secretary under George H.W. Bush; and Donald Rumsfeld, who served first under Gerald Ford in 1975 and was later tapped for the role under George W. Bush.

The letter urged the president to accept the results of the election and stressed that the military should not be used to fulfill political ends.

"American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy," they wrote in The Washington Post, adding that the administration should "refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team."

"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 letter continued.

The former secretaries also cautioned that anyone found to be interfering in the election could potentially be subject to criminal charges.

"Efforts to involve the US 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."