All living Defense Secretaries call GOP election overthrow  'dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional'
Photo: Pentagon

Every living U.S. Secretary of Defense, including Republicans like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, say that what the Republican Party is trying to do to overthrow the 2020 election results is entering dangerous territory.

Joining Rumsfeld and Cheney in writing an open letter in the Washington Post are Ashton Carter, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, and William Perry. The men said that they all believe that there are "solemn obligations of the U.S. armed forces and the Defense Department," and those do not include serving as the fighting force to overthrow the United States Constitution.

"Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party," the letter began. "American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy. With one singular and tragic exception that cost the lives of more Americans than all of our other wars combined, the United States has had an unbroken record of such transitions since 1789, including in times of partisan strife, war, epidemics and economic depression. This year should be no exception."

The election happened. It's over and President-elect Joe Biden won. There was no fraud, as Trump's own lawyers confessed in court. The Republicans in the House and Senate have made it clear that they don't intend to bring evidence of voter fraud or proof that electronic voting machines were tampered with. They're attempting to overthrow the Electoral College vote simply because they don't like the outcome.

The letter went on to cite senior Defense Department officials who made it clear they have no intention of serving as the armed military force behind the Republican's efforts. "There's no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election," said a current official.

Using the military for such an effort "would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory," wrote the defense secretaries. "Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic."

The men also noted that presidential transitions are important and at this point and can make the country more vulnerable to adversaries trying to take advantage of the situation. This power play from the GOP is putting the country in greater danger.

"Given these factors, particularly at a time when U.S. forces are engaged in active operations around the world, it is all the more imperative that the transition at the Defense Department be carried out fully, cooperatively and transparently," the man continued.

They closed by calling on those in the Defense Department, "in the strongest terms, to do as so many generations of Americans have done before them. This final action is in keeping with the highest traditions and professionalism of the U.S. armed forces, and the history of democratic transition in our great country."

Read the full letter at the Washington Post.