The 10 men said using the military would take us into “dangerous” territory.
January 5, 2021, 2:52 AM
• 9 min read
“Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory,” the former secretaries wrote in the letter, which was published as an op-ed by the Washington Post.
Edelman drafted and orchestrated the letter in consultation with former Vice President Dick Cheney, himself a former secretary of defense, along with help from former State Department adviser Eliot Cohen.
Cheney told Edelman he would sign the letter if he could get other former secretaries to join in, Edelman told ABC News on Monday. Edelman reached out to the Post and got all 10 secretaries to add their names by Friday, he said.
The motivation and timing for the letter was multifarious, Edelman told ABC News.
“There’s the firing of Esper right after the election, there’s the installation of this cadre of political appointees around (acting Secretary of Defense Chris) Miller there, there’s the rush for the exit in Afghanistan,” Edelman said, also citing a reported attempt by the Trump administration to split U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency last month as well as Trump’s controversial call with Georgia’s secretary of state on Saturday.
Edelman also said comments made by former national security adviser Michael Flynn about the possibility of Trump invoking martial law to rerun the election in battleground states raised concerns.
In a Newsmax interview in mid-December, Flynn detailed what he considered Trump’s military options. While Flynn claimed he was not advocating for these options to be exercised, and that constitutional processes must be followed, just weeks earlier he tweeted an organization’s press release calling for “limited martial law” to hold a new election.
“I think Secretary Mattis for good reasons was a little reticent,” the former official said. “He understandably feels that he as a retiree is still covered by the (Uniform Code of Military Justice), and you know, retired officers should not be criticizing the commander in chief, and they’re not supposed to do that.”
The former official told ABC News he came around after being persuaded by others involved in the project “that he needed to think about this not as ‘former Marine four-star general officer Jim Mattis,’ but as ‘former Secretary of Defense Mattis.'””