Former US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper along with other nine ex-secretaries, including Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, and William Cohen, in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Sunday, have urged acting US Secretary of Defence Christopher C. Miller, "and his subordinates" to refrain from "any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team".
The former Pentagon chiefs highlighted that the transition at the Defence Department as part of the process of the transfer of power from Trump to Biden must be "carried out fully, cooperatively, and transparently", with Miller and his colleagues "bound by oath, law, and precedent to facilitate the entry into office of the incoming administration, and to do so wholeheartedly".
"Each of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We did not swear it to an individual or a party", they collectively wrote.
Earlier in December 2020, the Department of Defence reportedly took a two-week break in its collaboration with the Biden team. According to Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden transition team, there was no "mutually agreed" upon holiday break. However, Miller at the time said the DoD had not "cancelled or declined any interview".
Pointing out that all of the recounts and vote certifications had been completed, with the Trump campaign failing to contest the election results in multiple states, the former top military officials argued that "the time for questioning the results has passed".
"American elections and the peaceful transfers of power that result are hallmarks of our democracy. With one singular and tragic exception that cost the lives of more Americans than all of our other wars combined, the United States has had an unbroken record of such transitions since 1789, including in times of partisan strife, war, epidemics, and economic depression. This year should be no exception", the opinion piece reads.
In addition, the former secretaries noted that efforts to involve the military in resolving election disputes would "would take us into dangerous, unlawful, and unconstitutional territory", claiming that those military and civilian officials who "direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic".
The final checkpoint in the 2020 election will occur on 6 January, as a joint meeting of the US Congress is expected to certify the Electoral College vote. At least 12 Republican senators have stated that they will "raise objections" on Wednesday.
Democrat Joe Biden secured victory in the 2020 US election, gaining 306 electoral votes to 232 for the incumbent US president. Trump, however, has refused to concede, alleging voter fraud, despite his campaign having reportedly lost some 59 lawsuits filed since the 3rd of November.