Defense Secretary Mark Esper Won’t Commit to Keeping Troops Away From Polling Stations

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Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) told reporters on Tuesday that Esper was evasive in written answers to questions they submitted on the politicization of the military and the role of the armed forces in a peaceful transition of power.

Slotkin and Sherrill said that Esper would not commit to keeping troops away from polling stations, and prompted their call on the Pentagon to vow the military won’t be used to influence the election.

While Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley has recently answered questions and demonstrated his committment to the premise that the military remains apolitical, the Democratic lawmakers said they did not hear the same level of commitment from Esper.

The pair pressed Esper on a host of issues, including whether he would refuse an order to send active-duty troops to be present at polling places. In multiple answers, Esper replied, “The U.S. military has acted, and will continue to act, in accordance with the Constitution and the law.”

Slotkin also sent letters to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and acting Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf urging them to remain apolitical in the election process. Slotkin told reporters that the DNI, along with the directors of the CIA and NSA, have acknowledged receiving her letter, while DHS said it won’t be able to respond until after the election.

Story at Politico.