US President Donald Trump
US President Donald TrumpOfficial White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The 10 living former US defense secretaries on Sunday published an opinion piece in The Washington Post in which they said that the time to question election results has passed, adding there is no role for the military in changing them.

The authors of the op-ed include Trump’s two former defense secretaries, Jim Mattis and Mark Esper, as well as each surviving, Senate-confirmed Pentagon chief dating back to former vice president Dick Cheney, who was defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted,” the former defense secretaries wrote. “The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived.”

The former defense secretaries added, “As senior Defense Department leaders have noted, ‘there’s no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election.’ Efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military 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.”

They called for the transition at the Defense Department “to be carried out fully, cooperatively and transparently. Acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller and his subordinates — political appointees, officers and civil servants — are each bound by oath, law and precedent to facilitate the entry into office of the incoming administration, and to do so wholeheartedly. They must also refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.”

The editorial comes days before the Electoral College results are tallied in Congress on January 6.

A group of a dozen Republican senators, spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), have said they would seek to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

The electors recently met and officially affirmed Biden's election win. Following that, several senior Republicans congratulated Biden, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who acknowledged Biden for the first time as President-elect.

Trump has refused to acknowledge the results of the election, citing widespread election fraud, and has largely been unsuccessful in challenging the results in courts.

Earlier on Sunday, The Washington Postpublished a recording of Trump pressuring Georgia's Secretary of State to “recalculate” the vote count in his state, because, as he says, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”