Retired military commanders: Donald Trump 'abdicated his duty' on January 6th

Retired military commanders: Donald Trump 'abdicated his duty' on January 6th
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Former President Donald Trump "abdicated his duty to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution" before, during, and after the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol, a septet of retired four-star generals and admirals wrote in Thursday's New York Times.

Trump's threats to declare martial law and put the military in charge, the ex-commanders said, were unprecedented and dangerous.

Trump's allies "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," Admirals Steve Abbot, James Loy, John Nathman, William Owens, and Generals Peter Chiarelli, John Jumper, and Johnnie Wilson opined. "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."

READ MORE: Kinzinger posts video of McEnany, other aides saying Trump 'was always in the dining room' on Jan. 6 'watching TV'

Trump, they said, abdicated his responsibility atop the chain of command.

"When a mob attacked the Capitol, the commander in chief failed to act to restore order and even encouraged the rioters," the officers contended, noting that then-Vice President Mike Pence attempting to order the National Guard to the Capitol underscored how detached Trump had become.

"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," the brass explained. "Members of Congress, who also pleaded for military assistance as the mob laid siege to the Capitol, are in the same category. In the end, the National Guard deployed not in response to those pleas but under lawful orders issued by the acting secretary of defense, Christopher Miller."

They also expounded that illegal or corrupt orders from the upper echelons of the military hierarchy can and should be challenged:

Operations on U.S. soil must also specifically comply with the Standing Rules for the Use of Force, which limit use of force but explicitly authorize it to protect people from imminent threat of death or serious harm, to defend 'assets vital to national security' and 'to prevent the sabotage of a national critical infrastructure.'

READ MORE: Ex-Trump Administration aide tells colleagues to 'get yourself a good criminal defense attorney'

And while there are procedural checks in place to dissuade "unlawful use of U.S. military personnel," the gentlemen continued, "military leaders must continue to develop robust training, guidance and resources for service members in accordance with these safeguards, ensuring the integrity of the chain of command and effective operation of civil-military relations."

They added that swearing an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" may require "civilian leaders equally committed to protecting and defending the Constitution" to stand up to compromised leadership, "including, most important, the commander in chief."

Trump's behavior on January 6th "tested the integrity of this historic principle as never before, endangering American lives and our democracy," the authors further stressed.

"The lesson of that day is clear. Our democracy is not a given," they concluded. "To preserve it, Americans must demand nothing less from their leaders than an unassailable commitment to country over party — and to their oaths above all."

READ MORE: MSNBC analyst explodes at Republicans for defending Donald Trump's idling on January 6th

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