A group of former national security officials issued a joint letter Monday condemning President TrumpDonald John TrumpSpike Lee urges Oscars viewers to vote in 2020: ‘Let’s all be in the right side of history’ José Andrés honors immigrants, women in Oscars speech Javier Bardem knocks ‘borders,’ ‘walls’ during Oscars speech in Spanish MORE’s declaration of a national emergency to divert funds to build his wall on the southern border.
In the 13-page document, the former officials — including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThe Hill’s Morning Report – What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down Mueller report may be ‘anti-climactic,’ says ex-intelligence director Intelligence chiefs should be commended, despite Trump’s attacks on them MORE, former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelEx-national security officials to issue statement slamming Trump’s emergency declaration: WaPo Former US Defense secretary: ‘American global leadership now is really nowhere’ Meet Trump’s pick to take over for Mattis at Pentagon MORE and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — argue that the president’s declaration undermines the purpose of the national declaration and will ultimately damage the country’s security.
“We are aware of no emergency that remotely justifies such a step. The President’s actions are at odds with the overwhelming evidence in the public record, including the administration’s own data and estimates,” the letter reads.
And the former officials argue that Trump’s declaration has “further eroded his credibility with foreign leaders, both friend and foe.”
“Should a genuine foreign crisis erupt, this lack of credibility will materially weaken this administration’s ability to marshal allies to support the United States, and will embolden adversaries to oppose us,” they wrote.
The vast majority of the letter’s signatories served during the Obama or Clinton administrations.
Many of the former officials who signed the letter and worked during Republican administrations have also been critical of Trump. For example, signatory John McLaughlin, who held the No. 2 spot at the CIA under former President George W. Bush, has publicly spoken out against the president.
Trump declared a national emergency after Congress passed a federal spending bill that did not include the $5.7 billion funding for a wall on the southern border that he had initially demanded.
His emergency declaration would divert other funds toward building a border wall.
The open letter was published one day before the House is set to vote on a resolution blocking the declaration.
The former officials, who also include former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta and former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryEx-national security officials to issue statement slamming Trump’s emergency declaration: WaPo High stakes in Nigeria’s elections for impoverished citizenry — and US interests Warren taps longtime aide as 2020 campaign manager MORE, wrote that they support a president having the authority to mobilize resources in the case of a “genuine” national emergency.
“But under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the President to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” they wrote.
They also argue that Trump’s directive will undermine national security and foreign policy.
“In the face of a nonexistent threat, redirecting funds for the construction of a wall along the southern border will undermine national security by needlessly pulling resources from Department of Defense programs that are responsible for keeping our troops and our country safe and running effectively,” the letter reads.
Trump has repeatedly clashed with the intelligence community since taking office and is considering ousting his handpicked director of national intelligence, Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDNC unveils new security checklist to protect campaigns from cyberattacks Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall Is Putin attacking Sanders, Harris and Warren to help Trump? MORE.
The president most recently criticized intelligence officials after testimony they gave before the Senate last month conflicted with his own foreign policy goals, including the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. But Trump appeared to back down after he said the officials told him the media mischaracterized their public testimony and open hearing.