I turned to retired Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton for perspective. He wouldn’t say Cotton and Co. were “traitors,” either. He had a better word. “I would use the word mutinous,” said Eaton, whose long career includes training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004. He is now a senior adviser to VoteVets.org. “I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act.” Eaton certainly had stern words for Cotton.I will try to explain this using simple little words. No chain of command whatsoever has anything to do with the US Senate. The President does not outrank senators. They are not part of the same hierarchy. He has authority over employees of the executive branch, especially uniformed military personel.
“What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better,” Eaton told me.
An act is either legal or it isn't. If one claims something can be defined as an illegal act, one should cite and quote the law, and, if challenged explain why it is constitutional. I don't think General Eaton does not have a law in mind. I think he uses the series, good idea, bad idea, terrible idea, highly improper, could be defined to be illegal. If he is thinking of a law, it can only be the uniform code of military justice which is totally irrelevant.
In any case if the Senators did break a law by writing a letter, the law is unconstitutional violating the first amendment, "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member." article I section 5, and "they shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place." article I section 6.
Finally veterans are ex-military and not subject to military discipline. Cotton should remember that, in the past, he was not allowed to do what he just did, then take a drink and laugh at General Eaton who can't shoot a fish in a barrel.