In a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation, all ten living former United States secretaries of Defense, led by former Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post warning that “efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory.” The secretaries’ claims come as a result of President Donald Trump’s sudden dismissal of former Defense Secretary Mark Esper in November as well as mounting hints from Trump that he may try to use military authority to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. 

In an attempt to maintain the peaceful transfer of power, the ten secretaries ask for “professionalism” from the U.S. armed forces.

The former secretaries specifically call on Acting Secretary Christopher C. Miller and his staff noting that “are each bound by oath, law and precedent to facilitate the entry into office of the incoming administration, and to do so wholeheartedly. They must also refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.”

The former secretaries’ concise statement outlines the Defense Department’s position as not bound to support any individual or party, but the Constitution. In seemingly direct response to Trump’s claims of election fraud, the former secretaries write, “Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. 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.”

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