More than four dozen members of the Republican foreign policy establishment, including the former heads of the CIA, World Bank and Department of Homeland Security, have put their names to an open letter saying GOP nominee Donald Trump is unfit and unqualified to serve as president and commander in chief.
The blistering letter, made public Monday afternoon, warns Mr. Trump would be the “most reckless president in American history.” It is the latest sign of deep disaffection between the party’s traditional foreign policy and security voices and the Trump campaign, with the billionaire nominee breaking repeatedly with party orthodoxy on issues ranging from trade and NATO to nuclear proliferation and relations with Russia.
Many of the signers, including former World Bank chief Robert Zoellick and former Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, served under President George W. Bush, who has refused to endorse Mr. Trump. But others, including former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills, have long pedigrees in the party dating back to the Nixon and Ford administrations.
The scathing letter came out just as Mr. Trump was seeking a “reset” to his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton with what was billed as a major address on economic policy in Detroit.
“From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and commander-in-chief,” the two-page letter read in part. “Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
The letter argues that Mr. Trump lacks a deep understanding of foreign policy issues, and “unlike previous presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.”
In the sharpest attack, the letter states: “More fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values and experience to be president. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. 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.”
Mr. Trump fired back within hours, accusing the signatories of the “politically motivated letter” of being responsible “for making the world such a dangerous place.”
“They are nothing more than the failed Washington elite looking to hold onto their power, and it’s time they are held accountable for their actions,” he said in a statement.
Other top names signing the letter included former CIA chief Michael Hayden, a Washington Times columnist; John Negroponte, a longtime diplomat and the first director of national intelligence; and Andrew Natsios, head of the Agency for International Development under George W. Bush.
Neither Colin Powell nor Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush’s secretaries of state, signed the letter, although top aides to both were among the signatories. The statement was reportedly organized by Philip Zelikow, who served as a top legal adviser to Ms. Rice and now teaches at the University of Virginia.
“We know the personal qualities required of a president of the United States,” the letter notes. “None of us will vote for Donald Trump.”
The letter noted that many of those signing share the doubts about Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy agenda.
“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.”