The nation’s top generals on the Joint Chiefs of Staff have a clear message to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces: President-elect Joe Biden will become commander-in-chief on Jan. 20 and “any act” to disrupt that constitutional process is illegal, period.
In a memo to the joint force sent on Tuesday, Army Gen. Mark Milley and others on the Joint Staff decried the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that was intended to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s November victory in the electoral college.
“The violent riot … was a direct assault on the U.S. Congress, the Capitol building, and our Constitutional process,” Milley wrote on behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We witnessed actions inside the Capitol building that were inconsistent with the rule of law. The rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not give anyone the right to result to violence, sedition, and insurrection.”
With the Defense Department currently investigating whether any U.S. service members played a role in the insurrection in the Capitol, Milley’s message also contained a thinly-veiled threat: play stupid games, win stupid prizes. “As service members, we must embody the values and ideals of the Nation. We support and defend the Constitution,” Milley wrote. “Any act to disrupt the Constitutional process is not only against our traditions, values, and oath: it is against the law.”
Milley’s message to the force came hours after the Army said in a statement that the service was working with the Secret Service to determine which U.S. service members working in support of the Biden inauguration on Jan. 20 “require additional background screening,” per Military.com.
“Per Department of Defense policy, all service members are trained annually on the Threat Awareness and Reporting Program (TARP), which requires department personnel to report any information regarding known or suspected extremist behavior that could be a threat to the department or the United States.”
Several active-duty and retired service members have been tied to the insurrection at the Capitol in recent days. In particular, Capt. Emily Rainey, an Army special operations officer, is currently under investigation for leading a group of roughly 100 people to Washington, D.C. for the pro-Trump rally ahead of the riot at the Capitol.