In an unprecedented development, the Trump administration’s acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, abruptly ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation with the transition team of President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday evening.
According to a report in Axios, “Miller—who was appointed Nov. 9, when Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper right after the election—ordered officials throughout the building to cancel scheduled transition meetings.”
The cancellations were confirmed by Washington Post reporter Dan Lamothe, who tweeted, “Can confirm all meetings were canceled today. Senior US official with knowledge of process says Miller made the right call after senior legal officials at Pentagon raised concern that they can’t keep up with all demands.”
In response to the Axios report, Miller issued a statement on Friday that said, “At no time has the Department cancelled or declined a meeting… After a mutually-agreed upon holiday pause, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and reschedule meetings from today.”
However, Biden transition team director Yohannes Abraham flatly denied Miller’s presentation of the shutdown of the meetings, telling reporters Friday afternoon, “Let me be clear: there was no mutually agreed upon holiday break.”
Abraham went on, “In fact, we think it’s important that briefings and other engagements continue during this period as there’s no time to spare, and that’s particularly true in the aftermath of ascertainment delay.” Abraham was referring to the fact that it took the Trump White House weeks to recognize Biden as president-elect. Axios reported that Miller’s cancellation of transition meetings during the holidays “stunned officials throughout the Pentagon.” The report quoted an unnamed senior Defense Department official, who said, “We had fewer than two dozen remaining meetings on the schedule today and next week,” and “the DoD staff working the meetings were overwhelmed.”
However, Jonathan Swan of Axios, tweeted, “Contrary to this Pentagon spin, there was NOTHING routine about this decision. Senior Trump officials have been furious at the Biden team, privately blaming them for leaks, and this decision was discussed last night with the White House.”
Whatever the justifications for the meeting cancellations, the unilateral decision by Miller, who served as the director of the National Counterterrorism Center before Trump appointed him to replace ousted Defense Secretary Esper, demonstrates that the White House has not dropped its effort to nullify the result of the November 3 election and the ballots of more than 81 million Biden voters. Even if, as seems likely, this coup attempt fails in the short run, the actions of Trump and his military allies make clear that the political crisis will intensify in 2021. Trump plans to mobilize the significant support that exists within the ruling class and the state for dictatorship, together with his fascistic supporters, on the basis of the lie of a stolen election and an illegitimate administration.
In a related development, Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security advisor who pled guilty twice to felony charges of lying to the FBI and was granted a full pardon by the president on November 25, said during a NewsMax interview that the US military should be mobilized to “rerun” the 2020 election in the swing states.
When asked by a far-right NewMax host about the 2020 election and “what should happen next,” Flynn replied, “Number one, President Trump won on the 3rd of November… He’s got a couple of options that he can take and he needs to take them, needs to take them right now.”
When asked what these options were, Flynn replied, “'He could immediately on his order seize every single one of these machines around the country on his order. He could also order, within the swing states, if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities and he could place them in those states and basically rerun an election in each of those states. It’s not unprecedented.”
Flynn went on to advocate for martial law, saying, “Martial law has been instituted 64—64—times.” He then added, “So, I’m not calling for that, we have a constitutional process… that has to be followed.”
Responding to Flynn’s comments on Friday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said in a joint statement that there “is no role for the US military in determining the outcome of an American election.”
Following his presidential pardon, Flynn has repeatedly called for the use of the military to overturn the results of the November election and keep Trump in office. On December 1, Flynn retweeted a “We The People Convention” (WTPC) press release that called upon President Trump to “invoke limited martial law to hold new election and protect your vote.”
The WTPC press release continues: “When the legislators, courts and/or Congress fail to do their duty under the 12th Amendment, you must be ready Mr. President to immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law, and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections, for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.”
Flynn was also a featured speaker at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. on December 12, where he said, in response to the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Texas lawsuit challenging the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania, “The courts do not decide who the next president of the United States will be.” In a couched reference to his call for martial law to rerun the election in the contested states, he added, “I will say, there are paths that are still in play… there’s a lot of activity that’s still playing out.”
Trump has meanwhile continued with a steady stream of tweets claiming that he won the election and asserting voter fraud and rigged election equipment. On Thursday alone he tweeted, “Just released data shows many thousands of non-citizens voted in Nevada. They are totally ineligible to vote!,” “We won Wisconsin big. They rigged the vote!” and “@senatemjldr and Republican Senators have to get tougher, or you won’t have a Republican Party anymore. We won the Presidential Election, by a lot. FIGHT FOR IT. Don’t let them take it away!”