For three years, half a dozen defense secretaries and Joint Chiefs chairmen tried, each in his own way, to keep the military out of Trump’s politics while complying dutifully with the commander in chief. But on Monday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Mark Esper walked right into it. First, Esper was caught on tape during the president’s phone call with governors, likening the protests to a “battlespace.” Trump berated the governors, told them to use the National Guard against protestors, and warned that if the state leaders resisted him, he would send in military force. He said he put Milley in charge of coordinating the nationwide response…

“It seemed to confirm that the President and senior Pentagon leadership are willing to use the military to further their political objectives. That they are willing to weaponize one sacred, American institution against another,” Slotkin said in a statement. “This next week will be critical. We are at a crossroads. I hope our veterans speak out and stand up for the core values they believe in. This is a dangerous path for our institutions, our military –– and our nation.”

Trump stokes division for a living. It has worked for him so far and could work again come November’s presidential election. He also loves a fight. And anyone who stands against him is his enemy. The one sector of the nation supposedly immune from Trump was the U.S. military. Generals must follow lawful orders, such as helping to enforce curfews and preventing lawful protest from turning violent. If Trump can enlist — or even appear to enlist — the military in his scorched-earth campaign against his enemies, then he threatens to undercut more than the military’s reputation. With his conspiracy-theory claims that the election is already rigged against him, and Democrats worried he’ll try to steal it from them, Trump threatens to undermine American democracy.