Retired four-star U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey said he’s “alarmed” by President Donald Trump’s replacement of key Defense Department personnel and fears that the White House is considering an attempt to use the military to “defy an election.”
“If I was a CIA officer trying to understand what was going on in a third-world country and I saw this pattern of behavior, I would say the strong man’s trying to take over the government and defy an election,” he told Ari Melber on MSNBC Wednesday.
McCaffrey said he doesn’t believe the military would violate the Constitution, but he is troubled by the changes at the top of the Pentagon. There are also other federal forces the White House could mobilize. “We are in a risky situation right now,” he warned.
Melber specifically asked McCaffrey if he believed that “there could be an effort to enlist the military in something unlawful.”
The general responded: “The federal government tools could be used in an oppressive manner. Start with the attorney general of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security and federal law enforcement officers, who — unless they get an order that is patently illegal — will carry out their instructions. ... I don’t believe in any way this should be minimized or this is just a tantrum of a president trying to accommodate himself to the outcome of the elections. This is some crazy thinking going on inside that White House.”
But he warned: “I think that’s the thinking that’s going on in the White House right now, and we ought to be worried about it. And the Republicans in Congress ought to speak up and push back.”
Of the personnel shakeup in the Defense Department, he said: “No one in his right mind would have accepted an appointment for 90 days. These people are in there to control a coercive institution of U.S. democracy. Watch out,” he warned.
“We are watching a setup of some people who are unqualified for office to be in control of the 2.1 million men and women of the armed forces,” McCaffrey added.
The “only one who can give orders to the armed forces is the president and the secretary of defense,” he noted. He called the new acting defense secretary, Chris Miller, a “perfectly good, experienced combat soldier,” but said he is “unqualified for this office.”
Of the three named to top positions in the past week, McCaffrey called retired one-star Gen. Anthony Tata a “dangerous man.” Tata, named as undersecretary for defense policy, is a Trump loyalist, former Fox News commentator and a conspiracy peddler who has called former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader” and “borderline treasonous.”
Watch McCaffrey’s interview in the video up top.