A spokesperson for the Department of Defense dismissed claims about the military potentially involving itself in a dispute after the November election.
“We have a Constitution, and our Constitution, which all members of the military have sworn an oath to, provides no role for the U.S. military as arbiter of political or election disputes,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on Thursday.
“This issue appears to be borne of unserious thought reflecting a fundamental lack of appreciation for the history of our democracy and the civilian-military relationship established under our Constitution,” he added.
Two retired military officers wrote an open letter to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, asserting that he needs to direct the military to remove President Donald Trump from office if he loses to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden and refuses to leave.
“If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order,” the former officials, John Nagl and Paul Yingling, wrote in a letter.
Yingling and Nagl drew heavy criticism online for their statements, saying that it is irresponsible for them to suggest that the military get involved. Federal law enforcement and civilian authorities would be responsible if Trump didn’t accept the election results.
“We write to repudiate the deeply irresponsible position taken by John Nagl and Paul Yingling in these pages yesterday. Their call for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be ready to issue orders to the American military for forcibly removing President Trump from office is as dangerous to our republic as the problem they purport to solve,” wrote Kori Schake, the Resident Scholar and Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Jim Golby, a senior fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin.
They added: “Even contemplating it is damaging to the trust between the American people and those citizens who serve in our military. Their comments denigrate the Constitution, suggesting an unelected military officer should ever occupy the sole position as its judge, jury, and executioner.”
In July, President Trump was asked by Fox News about whether he would accept the results of the election.
“I’m not a good loser,” Trump said in the interview. “I don’t like to lose.” He also said that he will “have to see” after the election is completed.
In June, Trump told reporters that he would peacefully leave the White House if loses and would “go on [to] do other things.”