Top military brass have spoken privately about what to do should President Donald Trump order them into the streets as election results are tallied, The New York Times reported Friday.
Trump has repeatedly said that the only way he’ll lose his reelection campaign is if the election is fraudulent, raising concerns that he’ll challenge a losing result and potentially refuse to leave office.
Unnamed senior Pentagon officials have spoken among themselves, the Times reported, about what to do should Trump invoke the Insurrection Act sometime after Election Day. The law provides for the use of the military on American soil, and Trump has threatened to use it before, to suppress racial justice protests earlier this year.
Unnamed Defense Department officials have spoken privately about the potential of Trump using the military to “put his thumb on the scales,” in the Times’ words. Per the paper, such a move may cause resignations among military leadership, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.
The Times noted that Milley told Congress last month that he believes “deeply in the principle of an apolitical U.S. military.”
“In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I foresee no role for the U.S armed forces in this process.”
At least one Trump ally, Roger Stone, whose prison sentence was also commuted by Trump in July, has suggested that the President could invoke the Insurrection Act in response to the election. He also said the President should send federal forces to seize ballots in Nevada, a crucial state that this year has decided to send every active registered voter a mail-in ballot, in comments earlier this month first noted by Media Matters.
“There’s going to be widespread, obvious, blatant, flagrant illegality,” he said. “The authority exists to stop that, it will have to be used if necessary.”
Reached by email this week, Stone stood by his remarks but added, “I have no official or unofficial capacity in election day activities and have no plans to take one on.”