William Cohen, former defense secretary, says ‘we are standing on the abyss of the destruction of our democracy’


Referring to Trump’s repeated and baseless claims of fraud and efforts to pressure election officials, Cohen, a Republican who served under President Bill Clinton, told CNN’s Don Lemon that the rule of law must be followed and that Trump’s conduct is actively hurting the country.

“This bodes not well for the United States, because we’re standing on the abyss of the destruction of our democracy. And so we have to come back to the key principles. You have to have truth in every facet of our lives. And when you don’t, you will not have the trust of the people,” Cohen said on “CNN Tonight.”

Trump has repeatedly aired false claims in the wake of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden two months ago, but in recent weeks he has escalated his attempts to overturn the results. Over the weekend, Trump unsuccessfully pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” votes and he has suggested that Vice President Mike Pence, in his ceremonial role overseeing Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote, should reject the will of the voters.
“We are seeing the persistence of his corruption. This is not something new. This is how he has operated during most of his lifetime,” Cohen said, referring to Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. He called the conduct “not surprising, as stunning as it may be,” and said the President was “engaging in an overt act of criminal misconduct.”
Cohen was among the 10 living former secretaries of defense who wrote a letter published in The Washington Post over the weekend that emphasized that the presidential election has come and gone and that the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power must follow.

“Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived,” wrote the former defense secretaries.

Cohen on Monday told Lemon that while the letter from the Defense secretaries was written and published prior to the release of Trump’s call, “that tape recording only confirms what we have been seeing for the past four years,” Cohen said.

“We talk about the rule of law and people have to understand: if there is no rule of law, if people are allowed to abuse it and misuse it, then all of us are in danger,” Cohen added.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.

Source : Nbcnewyork