'Dereliction of duty': Retired generals and admirals slam Trump for 'endangering American lives' on Jan. 6
Donald Trump (Photo by Mandel Ngan for AFP)

On Thursday, writing for The New York Times, several retired four-star generals and admirals tore into former President Donald Trump, arguing that his actions on January 6th, 2021 — and leading up to it — amounted to a "dereliction of duty."

The military leaders include Adm. Steve Abbot, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Gen. John Jumper, Adm. James Loy, Adm. John Nathman, Adm. William Owens and Gen. Johnnie Wilson.

"In the weeks leading up to that terrible day, allies of Mr. Trump also urged him to hold on to power by unlawfully ordering the military to seize voting machines and supervise a do-over of the election. Such an illegal order would have imperiled a foundational precept of American democracy: civilian control of the military," they wrote. "Americans may take it for granted, but the strength of our democracy rests upon the stability of this arrangement, which requires both civilian and military leaders to have confidence that they have the same goal of supporting and defending the Constitution."

Compounding this, they wrote, was Trump's refusal to use necessary military resources to stop the attack on the Capitol.

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"When a mob attacked the Capitol, the commander in chief failed to act to restore order and even encouraged the rioters. As Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified to Congress, Vice President Mike Pence attempted to fill the void by calling on the National Guard to intervene," they wrote. "Given the urgent need to secure the Capitol, Mr. Pence’s request was reasonable. Yet the vice president has no role in the chain of command unless specifically acting under the president’s authority because of illness or incapacitation, and therefore cannot lawfully issue orders to the military. Members of Congress, who also pleaded for military assistance as the mob laid siege to the Capitol, are in the same category."

"The principle of civilian control of the military predates the founding of the Republic," they concluded. "In 1775, George Washington was commissioned as the military commander of the Continental Army under the civilian command authority of the Second Continental Congress. The next year, among the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence against King George III was his making 'the military independent of and superior to the civil power.' The president’s dereliction of duty on Jan. 6 tested the integrity of this historic principle as never before, endangering American lives and our democracy."

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