Military should play no role in blocking transfer of power in US, ex-defence secretaries warn

·2-min read

The military should play no role in President Donald Trump's attempts to block the transfer of power to Joe Biden, all ten living former US defence secretaries have said.

In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post, the group said the time had come for the Republican to accept he had lost the 3 November election.

They wrote: "Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted.

"The time for questioning the results has passed.

"Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and
unconstitutional territory.

"Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties."

The men involved - both Republicans and Democrats and including Dick Cheney, William Cohen and Donald Rumsfeld - do not specify Mr Trump in the piece, but urge those in power to maintain the "highest traditions and professionalism" of the US armed forces and to hold to the country's history of democratic transition to a new government.

It comes after Mr Trump was recorded pleading with Georgia's election chief to help him "find enough votes".

The ten former Pentagon leaders also warned that impeding a full and smooth transition of the department of defence before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on 20 January could make the country "vulnerable to actions by adversaries seeking to take advantage of the situation".

Tensions with Iran are one such moment.

This past Sunday marked one year since the US killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani.

Iran's leadership vowed to avenge the killing days later.

More recently US officials have said they are on heightened alert for a potential Iranian attack on US forces or interests in the Middle East.

There have been reports that the president has accepted his defeat behind closed doors, but Mr Trump has continued to claim the election was "stolen" from him on Twitter.

He has secured the support of several Republican senators and up to 100 House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College vote when Congress convenes on Wednesday to confirm Mr Biden's victory.

State officials have insisted there is no evidence of fraud or other problems during the election.