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'Zero' chance U.S. troops will be deployed if election disputed, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman says

"There is no role there," said Gen. Mark Milley

Updated: October 12, 2020 - 5:41pm

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President Trump says mail-in votes could invalidate the results of the Nov. 3 election. Democrat Joe Biden says the only way he can lose is if there is "chicanery" at polls on Election Day.

So what happens if the election isn't decided on Nov. 3, or the next week, or even the next month?

No matter what happens, the U.S. military won't be involved.

That's what Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said Monday. 

"This isn't the first time that someone has suggested that there might be a contested election," Milley said in an interview with NPR. "And if there is, it'll be handled appropriately by the courts and by the U.S. Congress. There's no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. Zero. There is no role there."

Last month, when asked about a peaceful transfer of power, Trump said in a White House press briefing, "We're going to have to see what happens."

The next day the White House said the president would accept the results of a "free and fair election."

Biden last week encouraged voters at a campaign stop in the key battleground of Pennsylvania to cast ballots, telling them, "Make sure to vote because the only way we lose this is by the chicanery going on relative to polling places."

So both sides have called into question the outcome of the November election. 

Americans agree. Just 22% of those surveyed in a poll last month believe this year's presidential election will be "free and fair," according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.

The survey, conducted Sept. 15-17, found that Republicans and Democrats doubt the election results.

"Half of Trump supporters (50 percent) say the election will not be free and fair; more than a third of Biden supporters (37 percent) agree," wrote Yahoo West Coast correspondent Andrew Romano. "Overall, the number of Americans who say the election will not be free and fair (46 percent) is more than twice the number who say the opposite. Another third (32 percent) say they're not sure what to expect." Just 22% said it will be "free and fair."

In other findings, just 19% said "yes" when asked: "Election-security experts say a U.S. presidential election cannot be rigged. Do you believe them?" Fifty-seven percent said "no."

On another question — "Do you think this year's presidential election will be 'rigged' in favor of one candidate or another?" — more than a third (34%) said "yes" while less than a quarter (24%) said "no."

"A full 60 percent, meanwhile, believe at least some fraud will occur," Yahoo wrote.

But Milley said the military must stay out of domestic politics because that is "very, very deeply rooted into the very essence" of the United States.

"I'm very confident in the resilience of the American institutions and the American government and the American people's adherence to the principles of rules of law," he said. "And we, the military, stay out of domestic politics — very, very deeply rooted into the very essence of our republic."

"If there's a disputed election, that'll be handled by Congress and the courts," he added. "And I'm quite confident that that will be the case this time around, as it has been several times before."

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