Retired U.S. military officers who trash President Donald Trump could face consequences for violating the rules of the Code of Military Justice, according to a new report.
“Retired officers can’t make contemptuous remarks of the commander-in-chief,” said John Dowd, a former legal adviser to Trump who has also served as a Marine Corps Judge Advocate, told the Just The News website.
“They’re all subject to recall. They’re subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice until they die,” he said.
“It’s stunning to me. I guess the law doesn’t apply to them,” he said.
The site, founded this year by veteran journalist John Solomon, also quoted a source it did not name as saying that using “contemptuous words against certain officials, including the president” can be considered “a court-martial offense, and yes, you can be recalled to active duty to be court-martialed.”
The source, described as an “active duty Army Judge Advocate General Corps officer,” argued that Section 888 under Title 10 of the U.S. Code covers the retired officers.
Retired high-ranking officers who have criticized Trump include former Defense Secretary James Mattis, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, and former Special Operations Command chief Adm. William McRaven — a defender of former CIA Director and outspoken Trump critic John Brennan.
“The sudden rush by retired flag officers to come out and declare the commander in chief to be the greatest threat to our Constitution is nothing short of abhorrent,” Army veteran Chad Longell told Just The News.
“While rioters loot and burn the country, while anarchists attempt to take over an American city, and while many are now calling for the abolition of entire police departments, these leaders think the president’s style is the greatest threat to our country?” he said.
In a piece for National Review, writer Victor Davis Hanson wrote that it has not been established that the UCMJ’s prohibitions of “contemtuous words” about the president apply to retired military leaders, but said Trump’s critics are crossing the line.
“[I]t seems that few worry about regulation AR 27-10 of the code: “Retired members of a regular component of the Armed Forces who are entitled to pay are subject to the UCMJ. (See Art. 2(a)(4), UCMJ.) They may be tried by courts-martial for offenses committed while in a retired status,'” he wrote.
Hanson wrote that the retired officers have been selective in expressing their outrage, since they kept silent during former President Barack Obama’s time in office.
“Our retired military officials, who so eloquently have cited the perceived dangers that the current president presents to the Constitution, which prompted their purportedly nonpartisan action, perhaps wisely — but also selectively and perhaps hypocritically — once kept completely mum about those apparent constitutional violations by a then-sitting president,” he wrote.
He also wrote that retired military leaders should be mindful of the consequences of publicly venting their dislike of Trump.
“In such a polarized climate, it seems reasonable to wish that even well-meaning retired generals would at least avoid incendiary comparisons of the president to America’s former Nazi or Fascist enemies. They could eschew factual inaccuracies. They might resist veiled hints about resisting or bypassing supposed alleged traitors in the White House. And they should not coordinate their efforts in an ominous manner that could undermine the often tenuous civilian and military balance at the core of our constitutional system,” he wrote.
“But that modicum of restraint was apparently asking too much in these times of bitter factionalism, rank partisanship, and social chaos,” he wrote.
One veteran had a blunter response to a Mattis statement published by The Atlantic magazine that was a searing attack on Trump.
“Who do you think you are to speak out in such a disgraceful manner against a sitting president? Do you believe your rank entitles you to talk such trash?” retired Col. Jim Bathurst, a veteran of 35 years in the Marines and author of the memoir “We’ll All Die as Marines,” wrote on his blog.
“By your recent actions and words, you’ve aligned yourself with the Hollywood trash who think anyone with half a brain would take anything they say with a grain of salt.”
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