Fifty of the most senior Republican national security officials have signed a letter declaring that Donald J. Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
Mr. Trump, the officials warn, “would be the most reckless president in American history.” The letter says Mr. Trump would weaken the United States’ moral authority and questions his knowledge of and belief in the Constitution. It says he has “demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding” of the nation’s “vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances and the democratic values” on which American policy should be based. And it laments that “Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.”
“None of us will vote for Donald Trump,” the letter states, though it notes later that many Americans “have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us.”
While foreign policy elites in both parties often argue among themselves — behind closed doors, or politely in the pages of Foreign Affairs magazine — it is extraordinarily rare for them to step into the political arena so publicly and aggressively.
Late Monday, Mr. Trump struck back. The signatories of the letter, he said in a statement, were “the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess, and we thank them for coming forward so everyone in the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place.” He dismissed them as “nothing more than the failed Washington elite looking to hold onto their power.”
The letter underscores the continuing rupture in the Republican Party, but particularly within its national security establishment. But a number said in recent interviews that they changed their minds once they heard Mr. Trump invite Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton’s email server — a sarcastic remark, he said later — and say that he would check to see how much NATO members contributed to the alliance before sending forces to help stave off a Russian attack. They viewed Mr. Trump’s comments on NATO as an abandonment of America’s most significant alliance relationship.