In recent weeks, President Trump has been publicly criticized by high-ranking retired military officers such as General James Mattis, Admiral William McRaven, General Colin Powell, Lt. General John Allen, and others. These public criticisms, however, are in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and law experts say these officials could be recalled to active duty and prosecuted.
“Retired officers can’t make contemptuous remarks of the commander-in-chief,” John Dowd, a former Marine Corps Judge Advocate and former Trump legal advisor, told Just The News. “They’re all subject to recall. They’re subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice until they die.”
The law governing this conduct is 10 U.S. Code § 888:
10 U.S. Code § 888 – Art. 88. Contempt toward officials
Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
“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.”
These retired officials likely know they can be recalled and held accountable.
Other members of the military community have called out these outspoken retired officers, questioning their motives. Army veteran Chad Longell told Just the News that the “sudden rush” to declare the commander-in-chief to be the greatest threat to our Constitution “is nothing short of abhorrent.”
“While rioters loot and burn the country, while anarchists attempt to take over an American city, and while many are now calling for the abolition of entire police departments, these leaders think the president’s style is the greatest threat to our country?”
“Where were they during the Obama administration, when the rules of engagement (ROE) were getting American soldiers killed?” asked retired infantry officer and combat veteran Jim Lechner. “The administration imposed an unworkable strategy and ROEs that were criminal. Why didn’t these flag officers speak up about that?”
In 2015, Admiral William McRaven, one of the retired generals who has spoken out against Trump, declined to answer a question about whether Obama’s rules of engagement endangered American lives.
Despite the fact these retired officers could be recalled and prosecuted, the chances of that happening are very, very small.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis