NYT: Senior Pentagon Officials Fear Trump Will Use Military Amid Election Unrest

DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr (cropped)


Several Pentagon officials said Trump ordering the military into the streets could lead senior generals to resign.

According to The New York Times, senior Pentagon officials are increasingly concerned that President Donald Trump might order the U.S military to quell unrest amid the upcoming election.

President Trump gave 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.

The Times reported that debate within the military about its role if election results are disputed has only intensified. Though military leaders have said it would not be the military’s place to remove Trump should he refuse to vacate office (that would fall either to the U.S. Marshals or the Secret Service, they say), they are concerned the president could order them into U.S. cities.

The Times wrote:

“[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.”

The concerns are not unfounded. The Insurrection Act, a two-century-old law, enables a president to send in active-duty military troops to quell disturbances over the objections of governors. Mr. Trump, who refers to the armed forces as “my military” and “my generals,” has lumped them with other supporters like Bikers for Trump, who could offer backup in the face of opposition.

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 Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff].

Read the full report.


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