Pentagon Absolutely Smashes Idea That Military Could Get Involved in Election Aftermath


It’s been a strange year, I understand. Your workspace companions are your dogs. Your favorite coffee shop is now Keurig. Your car is still on the same tank of gas from when you filled it up on July 4. Things are weird.

The election is the same way. We don’t know whether we’re going to be mailing in our ballots or going to the voting booth. We don’t know when the winner will be announced. We don’t know whether Joe Biden even knows he’s running.

I understand that strange times breed strange ideas, particularly when it comes to politics. However, they are just that: strange ideas. If you’re one of our Democrat friends, I’d like to shine a happy bit of reality into your lives.

If President Donald Trump isn’t re-elected, he’s leaving the White House.

Not only is he leaving, but he’s leaving on his own accord. There isn’t going to be any sort of showdown, any kind of televised shootout inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Jason Statham isn’t going to have to fast-rope down onto the ceiling of the East Wing and engage in hand-to-hand combat with secret black-belt Mike Pence. Things will be OK.

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This isn’t just a strange theory percolating in those corners of Twitter you don’t want to go to. In fact, it came up at a Pentagon media briefing on Thursday, when a reporter asked if the Defense Department was “prepared and willing to step in and provide support to civil authorities if asked for any post-election unrest or any support for the election.”

The context of the question was pretty clear if you read between the lines: If the election turned out really badly, would the military need to get involved?

Further context: On Tuesday, two former Army officers called upon Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to be prepared and willing to remove President Trump from office if he disputed the results of the election.

“We do not live in ordinary times. The president of the United States is actively subverting our electoral system, threatening to remain in office in defiance of our Constitution,” John Nagl and Paul Yingling wrote in an open letter published by Defense One.

“In a few months’ time, you may have to choose between defying a lawless president or betraying your Constitutional oath,” they said. “We write to assist you in thinking clearly about that choice. If Donald Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order.”

Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman wasn’t particularly impressed by this hypothetical.

His response to the question, which begins at 13:40, called it “unserious thought”:

“We have a Constitution, and our Constitution, which all members of the military have sworn an oath to, provides no role for the U.S. military as arbiter of political or election disputes,” Hoffman said.

“This issue appears to be borne of unserious thought reflecting a fundamental lack of appreciation for the history of our democracy and the civilian-military relationship established under our Constitution.”

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Twitter did not find this “unserious,” because it’s Twitter:

Most of this speculation was generated by an answer the president gave Fox News’ Chris Wallace during an interview last month when asked whether he was going to accept the results of the election in November.

“I have to see,” Trump said. “I’m not going to just say yes, and I didn’t last time, either.”

There’s a bit of irony here when you consider that the Democrats didn’t accept the results of that election, but I digress. His response led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to speculate on having to gas Trump out of the White House.

“Just because he might not want to move out of the White House doesn’t mean we won’t have an inauguration ceremony to inaugurate a duly elected president of the United States. And I guess, you know, I’m second in line to the presidency, and just last week I had my regular continuation of government briefing. This might interest you because I say to them, ‘This is never going to happen.’ God willing, it never will. But there is a process,” she told MSNBC.

If he loses, will Donald Trump leave office willingly?

“It has nothing to do with that the certain occupant of the White House doesn’t feel like moving and has to be fumigated out of there, because the presidency is the presidency.”

However, if you’re going to get yourself in a snit over Trump’s comments, consider that the president has also said he would leave the White House peacefully if he lost the election.

“Certainly, if I don’t win, I don’t win,” he told Fox News in June.

He’d made those remarks in response to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden saying, during an appearance on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” that “my single greatest concern [is that] this president is going to try to steal this election. This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent … while he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in a primary.”

“Look, Joe’s not all there,” the president said in response. “Everybody knows. And it’s sad when you look at it and you see it, you see it for yourself. He’s created his own sanctuary city in the basement or wherever he is and he doesn’t come out.”

Unfortunately, when we’ve all been cooped up like Joe has been — albeit not by our own volition — it’s easy to entertain “unserious thought.” You’d be better advised to go back to your Keurig and your dogs, however.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture