95 GOP National Security Figures Sign Letter Against Trump

By Patrick Goodenough | March 3, 2016 | 7:17 PM EST

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he speaks at campaign stop, Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

(CNSNews.com) – Scores of Republican national security, defense and political experts – 95 by Thursday evening – have signed an open letter declaring GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump unfit to be commander in chief.

Citing concerns such as Trump’s declared admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, his demand that Mexico pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and his call for allies like Japan to pay for U.S. protection, the signatories said that his “own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world.”

They pledged to work “energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.”

Prominent among the signatories are Michael Chertoff, who served as Homeland Security Secretary from 2005-2009, Frances Townsend, homeland security advisor to President George W. Bush, and Robert Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative from 2001-2005, and World Bank president from 2007-2012.

Others include former ambassadors, former senior State and Defense department officials, and security policy experts.

The letter came on the day the previous two Republican presidential nominees, Mitt Romney (2012) and Sen. John McCain (2008) both repudiated Trump – the former in a scathing speech in Utah, and the latter in a statement supporting Romney’s attack.

“His domestic policies would lead to recession; his foreign policies would make America and the world less safe,” Romney said. “He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”

In his statement McCain also cited the letter from Republican defense and foreign policy leaders, saying he echoed their concerns about what he called “Mr. Trump’s uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security.”

Thursday’s letter was organized by former State Department counselor Eliot Cohen and Bryan McGrath, managing director of The FerryBridge Group defense consulting firm.

Some of the signatories served as advisors to Romney’s 2012 campaign, including Chertoff, Cohen, former undersecretary for international security and arms control Robert Joseph, former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim, and former undersecretary for policy Eric Edelman.

The letter said that while signatories had disagreed over many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria, “we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency.”

Among other things, it accused Trump of inconsistency and of misrepresenting his views.

“He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence,” it said.

“He is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation.”

The letter also challenged Trump’s tendency to equate foreign relations with business deals – and added a dig at his four chapter 11 corporate bankruptcies between 1991 and 2009.

“His equation of business acumen with foreign policy experience is false,” it said. “Not all lethal conflicts can be resolved as a real estate deal might, and there is no recourse to bankruptcy court in international affairs.”

Trump has given short shrift to previous such attacks. Responding to National Review’s “Against Trump” issue last January – which carried essays from 22 leading conservative commentators arguing against a Trump nomination – the GOP frontrunner called it a “dying paper,” adding “I guess they want to get a little publicity.”

His reaction Thursday to Romney’s speech was as direct. He described the former Massachusetts governor as a “disaster” and a “choke artist,” and said Romney had begged Trump to endorse him in the 2012 race.

Trump has yet to announce a foreign policy/national security team, despite having expressed an intention to do so for months. On February 9 he said on Fox News that he would “release a list in about two weeks,” and on February 17 he told MSNBC he would be “announcing a team in about a week.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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