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Slotkin calls on Defense Secretary Esper to promise troops won't be used for partisan purposes

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth

Two Democratic congresswomen with national security experience want Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to make a public commitment to upholding the military's apolitical role.

Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and New Jersey Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill said this is critical because President Donald Trump has used the military for partisan purposes and has suggested he might reject the results of the 2020 election if he loses. 

Slotkin and Sherrill say Esper has so far provided vague and unsatisfactory answers to questions they have officially posed to him. They want answers about any military role at polling places, the potential for any military operations that might be mounted for political gain, and the duty of military leaders to follow the orders of a lawfully elected president as certified by Congress.

"On something like this, it should be pretty cut and dry to say you will not stymie a peaceful transition of power," said Slotkin.

"We're going to need senior, respected folks across the country to speak up in order to literally preserve our democracy," Slotkin said.

In contrast to Esper, Slotkin and Sherrill praised the responses to their questions of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. They said Milley committed to uphold an apolitical military, to avoid military involvement in the election, to support the peaceful transition of power, and to refuse any unlawful orders. 

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.