On Thursday, Newsweek reported that military officials are discussing their options in the event that outgoing President Donald Trump triggers civil unrest to try to prevent the peaceful transition of power.
"Though far-fetched, ranking officers have discussed what they would do if the president declared martial law," reported William Arkin. "And military commands responsible for Washington DC are engaged in secret contingency planning in case the armed forces are called upon to maintain or restore civil order during the inauguration and transition period. According to one officer who spoke to Newsweek on condition of anonymity, the planning is being kept out of sight of the White House and Trump loyalists in the Pentagon for fear that it would be shut down."
"A half-dozen officers in similar positions agree that while there is zero chance that the uniformed leadership would involve itself in any scheme to create an election-related reversal, they worry that the military could get sucked into a crisis of Trump's making, particularly if the president tries to rally private militias and pro-Trump paramilitaries in an effort to disrupt the transition and bring violence to the capital," continued the report.
The outgoing president has yet to publicly acknowledge his election loss, even after dozens of lawsuits from his campaign have been turned back in state and federal courts and the Electoral College has convened to vote for Joe Biden. And there have been a number of violent threats against election officials by Trump supporters, raising fears of general unrest.
One anonymous military official told reporters, "I've been associated with the military for over 40 years and I've never seen the discussions that are being had right now, the need for such discussions." A retired judge advocate general said, "Right now, because of coronavirus, the president actually has unprecedented emergency powers, ones that might convince him — particularly if he listens to certain of his supporters — that he has unlimited powers and is above the law."