Retired generals who denounced Trump could be recalled to active duty and prosecuted, experts say

The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits using “contemptuous words” against the president.

Last Updated:
June 12, 2020 – 9:28am

Retired four-star military officers who lambasted President Trump could be recalled to active duty and prosecuted for violating the U.S. Code, military law experts told Just the News.

“Retired officers can’t make contemptuous remarks of the commander-in-chief,” said John Dowd, a former Marine Corps Judge Advocate and former Trump legal advisor. “They’re all subject to recall. They’re subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice until they die.”

The pertinent law is Title 10 of the U.S. Code, Section 888, the experts said.

“As part of the UCMJ, governing military law, you cannot use contemptuous words against certain officials, including the president,” one active duty Army Judge Advocate General Corps officer said. “That is a court-martial offense, and yes, you can be recalled to active duty to be court-martialed.”

The outspoken retired officers know they could be held to account, the JAG officer said.

“I don’t know who the hell they think they are,” Dowd said. “It’s stunning to me. I guess the law doesn’t apply to them.”

The retired officers comprise some of the biggest marquee military names in recent times. They include former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis and former Special Operations Command chief Adm. William McRaven.

With increasing frequency over the past couple years, and in quick succession over the past week, they have leveled serious accusations against Trump, and have called for him to be removed from office.

In late 2019, McRaven published a New York Times op-ed titled “Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President,” and later told CNN interviewer Jake Tapper that Trump is working to destroy the country.

On June 7, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell — also speaking to CNN’s Tapper — said that Trump has “drifted away” from the U.S. Constitution. Elsewhere, Powell said Trump “lies all the time,” and called him a “menace.”

Retired Lt. Gen. John Allen, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in an interview that the Constitution is under threat — not from violent anarchists, but from the president of the United States.

Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who led U.S. Southern Command and served in Bill Clinton’s cabinet, denounced Trump as a threat to national security. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen — who in 2012 surrendered his computers to the FBI in the course of a cybersecurity investigation — accused Trump of giving succor to foreign detractors.

Last week, Mattis launched his own salvo.

“We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” Mattis wrote about Trump in The Atlantic. “We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society,” he said, adding Trump made a mockery of the Constitution.

Amid publicity surrounding the comments, the retired officers rallied around one another, giving virtual salutes and fist-bumps.

McCaffrey posted on social media his support of Powell and Mattis. He tweeted a Tik Tok video mocking Trump, and made fun of Mattis critic Sebastian Gorka, calling him “a childish fraud.”