Sunday, January 24

Former US Defense Secretaries Declare Election Over

(CNN) — The 10 former US Defense Secretaries still alive declared the presidential election to be over, in a spirited public letter published in The Washington Post on Sunday as President Donald Trump continues to deny his electoral defeat to Joe Biden.

The letter, signed by Dick Cheney, James Mattis, Mark Esper, Leon Panetta, Donald Rumsfeld, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Robert Gates, William Perry and Ashton Carter, amounts to a remarkable show of force against Trump’s subversion efforts, days before Congress counts the Electoral College votes.

«Our elections have been made. Counts and audits have been carried out. The courts have dealt with the relevant challenges. The governors have certified the results. And the Electoral College has voted. The time to question the results is over; the time for counting the votes of the Electoral College, as prescribed in the Constitution and the statute, has arrived, ”the group wrote.

Since Election Day, Trump has falsely claimed that there is an attempt to steal his second term, even when there have been no credible allegations of widespread voting problems, as claimed by dozens of judges, governors and election officials, the Electoral College, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Still, a wide swath of Republicans in Congress are on the president’s side and plan to oppose Biden’s victory during the Electoral College recount on Wednesday, though their efforts will only delay the inevitable assertion of Biden’s victory.

What former defense secretaries say

Former defense secretaries, who collectively represent decades in office, wrote that presidential transitions “are a crucial part of the successful transfer of power.”

“They often occur at times of international uncertainty about America’s national security policy and posture. They can occur at a time when the nation is vulnerable to the actions of adversaries who seek to take advantage of the situation.

The letter follows Trump’s impeachment of Esper in November as part of a series of sweeping changes to the Defense Department’s civilian leadership structure that included the placement of alleged loyalists to the president.

Restlessness at the Pentagon

The reorganization made officials within the Pentagon nervous and fueled a growing sense of alarm among military and civilian officials.

And while America’s top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, told Congress in August that the Army will not help resolve any electoral disputes, the group of former defense secretaries reiterated in their letter that such an effort “would lead us into dangerous, illegal and unconstitutional territory.”

“Civil and military officials who direct or carry out such measures will be held responsible, even potentially facing criminal penalties, for the serious consequences of their actions in our republic,” the letter says.

Cohen, a Republican who served as Secretary of Defense during Bill Clinton’s presidency, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on “Newsroom” shortly after the letter was published that the “highly unusual” step was justified given the “path “unconstitutional” that Trump has taken in the country.

“It was really our attempt to appeal to the American people. We believe that they are all patriots. President Trump has led them down a path, an unconstitutional path. And so we feel that, having served in the Department of Defense. it is up to us to say: Please, all of you in the Department of Defense, have taken an oath to serve this country, this Constitution, not any particular individual, ”he said.

Idea de Dick Cheney

Perry, a Democrat who also served as Secretary of Defense during the Clinton presidency, said in a tweet Sunday night that the idea for the statement came from Cheney, a Republican who was Secretary of Defense during the George Bush presidency. before being George’s vice president. W. Bush.

“Each of us took an oath to support and defend the Constitution; that oath does not change based on the party’s designation, ”Perry said.

The former defense secretaries ended their letter urging the Department to “refrain from any political action” that could undermine election results or impair the transition to a new administration.

“We ask them, in the strongest terms, to do what so many generations of Americans have done before them,” the letter says.

“This final action is in keeping with the highest traditions and professionalism of the United States military and the history of democratic transition in our great country.”

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