Back in June when Donald Trump and his henchman Attorney General William “Coverup” Barr called out the National Guard to patrol Washington, D.C., in response to Black Lives Matter protests in a show of military force intended as a preview of what Trump intends to do around election day in “Democrat cities,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley were inappropriately at the president’s side in his walk to St. Marks Church for his photo-op with a Bible.
The ensuing public outrage led to Secretary Esper and General Millie to publicly apologize for having participated in the “battle of Lafayette Square” for a Trump photo-op. The military establishment reasserts it is apolitical ahead of West Point graduation (excerpt):
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Milley’s presence at an overtly political event drew fire from civilians and several recently retired generals, compounding the harsh criticism that followed remarks Esper made earlier in the day comparing U.S. cities to a “battle space.”
This was unprecedented an inappropriate role for either the Joint Chiefs chairman or the Secretary of Defense, both of whom have now since walked back their embarrassing participation in this shameful stunt.
The AP reports Military chief: Wrong to walk with Trump past park protest:
Gen. Milley said his presence in combat fatigues amid protests over racial injustice “created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
“I should not have been there,” the Joint Chiefs chairman said in remarks to a National Defense University commencement ceremony.
Milley’s statement risked the wrath of a president sensitive to anything hinting of criticism of events he has staged. Pentagon leaders’ relations with the White House already were tense after a disagreement last week over Trump’s threat to use federal troops to quell civil unrest triggered by George Floyd’s death in police custody.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Mark Esper knocked down the idea of using active-duty troops against American citizens. Esper Opposes Active Duty Troop Use As Military Decry Racism, Floyd’s Death:
In a surprising scene, Esper stood before the press at a hastily arranged press conference and said “the option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort – and only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
His comments raised the question of whether President Trump, who had pledged to use active duty troops if necessary, would fire Esper or demand his resignation.
Donald Trump is trying to turn the U.S. Military into his praetorian guard, with sole loyalty to him, not their oath to defend the Constitution and the country. This is a clear abuse of power that no other president in American history has dared to cross the line of an apolitical military.
Now with Donald Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election, there is renewed concern about the role of the U.S. Military. The New York Times reports, At Pentagon, Fears Grow That Trump Will Pull Military Into Election Unrest (excerpt):
President Trump gave Pentagon officials no solace on Wednesday and Thursday when he again refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election, and on Thursday, he doubled down by saying he was not sure the election could be “honest.” His hedging, along with his expressed desire in June to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto American streets to quell protests over the killing of George Floyd, has incited deep anxiety among senior military and Defense Department leaders, who insist they will do all they can to keep the armed forces out of the elections.
“I believe deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military,” General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in written answers to questions from House lawmakers released last month. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law, U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military. I foresee no role for the U.S. armed forces in this process.”
But that has not stopped an intensifying debate in the military about its role should a disputed election lead to civil unrest.
* * *
[S]enior leaders at the Pentagon, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that they were talking among themselves about what to do if Mr. Trump, who will still be president from Election Day to Inauguration Day, invokes the Insurrection Act and tries to send troops into the streets, as he repeatedly threatened to do during the protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Both General Milley and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper opposed the move then, and Mr. Trump backed down.
Defense Department officials have privately discussed the possibility of Mr. Trump trying to use any civil unrest around the elections to put his thumb on the scales. Several Pentagon officials said that such a move could prompt resignations among many of Mr. Trump’s senior generals, starting at the top with General Milley.
Days after the Trump-Pence campaign released an endorsement letter signed by 235 retired military officers, a coalition of nearly 500 current and former national security leaders has released its own letter endorsing challenger Joe Biden for president.
The open letter, published Thursday morning by National Security Leaders for Biden, contains 489 names, including 22 retired four-star generals and admirals; five former defense secretaries; and other notable leaders including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former NASA administrator Charles Bolden, among others.
Addressed to “Our Fellow Citizens,” the letter describes its signers as including Republicans, Democrats and Independents united by a common fear for the future of the country.
“The next president will inherit a nation — and a world — in turmoil,” the letter states. “The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us.”
It cites the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, malign Russian influence and threats from a nuclear North Korea as challenges the U.S. president will face over the next four years, adding that Biden, who previously served as vice president, was capable of taking them on.
Other notable names on the lengthy list include Michele Flournoy, a former under secretary of defense widely believed to be Biden’s pick for defense secretary and former national security advisor and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice. The former defense secretaries signing on included Ash Carter, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta and William Perry.
“Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision — as any American president should,” the signers wrote. “… Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase ‘I don’t take responsibility at all.'”
Steve Abbot, who retired from the Navy as a four-star admiral in 2000 and later served as deputy homeland security advisor under President George W. Bush, told Military.com he saw the current moment in U.S. history as extraordinary and galvanizing.
“It is indeed a group that includes … people that haven’t had any identification with any political effort, but believe that these are fraught times in the nation’s history and that they needed to come together to deal with the crisis that is at hand,” he said. “So this is not a one-party effort. It’s cross-partisan.”
One name leaps from the lengthy list of 489 national security experts who announced their support for Mr. Biden on Thursday: Gen. Paul J. Selva. A former top military commander under Trump is among 489 security leaders who say he is unfit for office..
General Selva, a retired four-star Air Force general with 40 years in uniform, served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Obama and Trump from 2015 until his retirement in July 2019.
In that capacity, he was the second-highest ranked officer in the country, putting him at the center of major military decisions made on the president’s watch, and in frequent proximity to Mr. Trump.
General Selva, a decorated pilot who served in the Gulf War, joins a host of other former top Trump military and national security advisers — from the former National Security Adviser John Bolton to many lesser-known Pentagon officials — who have questioned Mr. Trump’s capacity to serve as commander in chief.
At least two other former military leaders on the list also served under Mr. Trump: Adm. Paul Zukunft of the Coast Guard, who retired in 2018, and Vice Adm. P. Gardner Howe III, a retired Navy SEAL commander.
In addition, Trump’s former national security adviser General H.R. McMaster said Thursday that President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power was a scenario that the nation’s Founding Fathers feared. Ex-Trump Adviser On President’s Election Comments: ‘Our Founders Feared’ This:
The retired three-star general, who worked in the Trump administration in 2017 and 2018, discussed Trump’s latest assault on democracy during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” Trump on Wednesday told a reporter “we’re gonna have to see” when asked if he would commit to ensuring a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November election.
“This is very disappointing. And really, this is something that our Founders feared,” McMaster said.
He cited Federalist Papers writings from James Madison and Alexander Hamilton that emphasized the dangers of identifying more with factions ― meaning political parties ― than with the republic itself, a scenario those writings predicted could lead to violence.
“This is very disappointing and really this is something that our founders feared,” former Trump national security adviser H.R. McMaster says on President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. https://t.co/XcWSWZFC02 pic.twitter.com/xlykRxPSsf
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) September 24, 2020
We have to demand that our leaders restore confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes. And, of course, it’s the administration who has responsibility to secure the election process. There’s been a lot of work done within that administration to do it after the lessons of the 2016 election. I think the comments are very unfortunate, Wolf. As you mentioned, our elections have been under attack in the past. Let’s not attack them ourselves. Let’s come together as Americans and execute a process we can have confidence in.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), has the best advice for Trump administration insiders (and those serving in federal law enforcement agencies and the military) worried about what this psychopath president will do to hold onto power. Adam Schiff Urges Trump’s Own Staff To Walk Out Now While They Can:
“This is a moment that I would say to any Republican of good conscience working in the administration: It is time for you to resign.”
“If you have been debating about whether you can continue to serve the country by serving this president, you can’t. It is time to resign. And I would say to those who have been on the sidelines maintaining a dignified silence who have served in the administration in the past, you cannot maintain your silence any longer.”
Schiff also warned them not to wait for Trump to try to “get rid of the ballots” before they act.
“Because if you do wait, knowing what is to come, you will share some of the burden of responsibility for that chaos that comes,” he said, adding that Trump’s “autocratic intentions are as clear as the writing on the wall.”
NB: By the way, whatever became of this guy? Anonymous ‘A Warning’ Author Vows To Reveal Identity Before Election:
The anonymous op-ed writer-turned-author of “A Warning,” which expanded on the infamous New York Times op-ed, who claimed to be a member of the “resistance” inside the Trump administration said they will reveal their identity before Election Day.
Originally identified only as a “senior official” in the administration, the author told Reddit users, “I will not keep my identity shrouded in secrecy forever.”
“I am not afraid to use my own name to express concern about the current occupant of the Oval Office. Donald Trump has not heard the last of me,” the author said, adding elsewhere: “Trump will hear from me, in my own name, before the 2020 election.”
Tick-tock Chickenshit, you’re on the clock. What are you waiting for?
Rep. Adam Schiff also tweeted:
This is how democracy dies.
A president so desperate to cling to power that he won’t commit to a peaceful transition of power.
That he seeks to throw out millions of votes.
And a Republican Party too craven to say a word.
But we will fight back. America belongs to the people. https://t.co/mIVjh78Xk9
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 24, 2020