Democrats call out Trump’s defense secretary for not committing to keep the US military out of the election

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Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday that they were troubled by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s evasive answers to questions about potential US military involvement in the presidential election, Politico first reported.

In late July, Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin and New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill raised a number of questions, including whether Esper would refuse an order to send uniformed military to polling stations.

In a written response submitted earlier this month and released by lawmakers Tuesday, the secretary simply replied: “The US military has acted, and will continue to act, in accordance with the Constitution and the law.”

“We have not received a direct commitment from Secretary Esper that he will refuse commands from an illegitimate President,” Sherrill said in a statement CNN reported. It is unprecedented for a US president to state they may not accede to the peaceful transfer of power that has been practiced since the Civil War.

The congresswoman and US Navy veteran said that “given the fact that the President has used our military for partisan purposes in the past and that the President has suggested he will not concede if he loses, it is incumbent upon the Secretary of Defense to fulfill his constitutional duties and ensure the apolitical role of the military.”

Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told Politico that Esper’s responses “clearly avoided wading into deliberately phrased and politically-tinged questions from members.”

Calling lawmaker criticisms of the Esper “undeserved,” Hoffman said that the Department of Defense will take this as an opportunity to say that “the Department will persist in remaining apolitical. Period.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley submitted his written responses in August, stating his position clearly.

“The Constitution and laws of the US and the states establish procedures for carrying out elections, and for resolving disputes over the outcome of elections,” he wrote. “I do not see the US military as part of this process.”

The top US general added that “in the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law US courts and the US Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the US Military.” Milley added that he believes “deeply in the principle of an apolitical US military.”

Milley reiterated his position in an interview with NPR that was broadcast Monday.

“This isn’t the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election,” he said. “And if there is, it’ll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the US Congress. There’s no role for the US military in determining the outcome of a US election. Zero.”

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday that the DC National Guard has not received any requests for security assistance in response to potential election unrest. “We support law enforcement,” he said. “We don’t police American streets.”

Slotkin and Sherrill expressed satisfaction with Milley’s responses to their questions but suggested that Esper could do better, such as when he openly stated that he opposed sending active-duty military into American streets in response …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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