Fifty former national security officials, all of whom have served under Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, have signed a letter calling Donald J. Trump unqualified to be president and warning that, if elected, “he would be the most reckless President in American history.”
The letter offers a withering critique of the GOP nominee, saying he “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and declaring their conviction he would be dangerous “and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
The signatories state flatly that none intend to vote for Trump in November. But they say they understand the frustrations of many Americans.
“We also know that many have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us,” they stated. “But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election. We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.”
No former secretaries of state signed the letter. But it was signed by Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, former secretaries of homeland security; Michael Hayden, a former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency; John Negroponte, the former director of national intelligence and deputy secretary of state; Robert Zoellick, who also was a deputy secretary of state; and William H. Taft IV, a former deputy secretary of defense and ambassador to NATO.
Also signing the letter were several aides who were senior advisers in the White House, State Department and Pentagon. Among them were Eric Edelman, a national security adviser to then-Vice President Richard B. Cheney, and John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice, both at the State Department and at the White House.
The letter represented an extraordinarily strong and blunt broadside against Trump, who in recent weeks has said he would not necessarily defend NATO allies who have not paid their fair share, complimented Russian President Vladimir Putin and made remarks suggesting he was unaware that Russia has annexed Crimea over Ukraine’s objections.
“He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press and an independent judiciary,” the letter states.
Later on, it adds, “At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics.”
The letter said Trump “lacks the temperament to be President,” and gave a scathing assessment of his ability to take advice, discipline himself, control his emotions and reflect before acting.
“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood,” the letter states in a particularly pointed criticism of Trump’s personal traits. “He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”