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We Worried Trump Would Endanger the U.S.

But he’s proved even worse than we thought.
August 21, 2020
We Worried Trump Would Endanger the U.S.
US President Donald Trump takes questions during a press briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, in Washington, DC on August 19, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2016, I was one of a group of Republican national security experts that published a statement of concern that Donald Trump would be a danger. In another effort, many of us pledged that we would not vote for him. We grieve that his comportment as president has been even more damaging to our country than most of us imagined a Trump presidency could be.

And so, many of us from 2016, and many who did not sign those public statements but are now alarmed by the president’s corruption and malfeasance, are banding together to endorse Joe Biden. All of us are former national security officials who served in senior jobs during the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and/or Donald Trump. We include former directors of the CIA, Republican members of Congress, secretaries of defense and of the military services, and ambassadors.

We hope you’ll be open to hearing us.

The president’s most important obligation is to protect Americans. In his behavior during this terrible pandemic, President Trump has not only failed by omission, by not ensuring the federal government coordinated national action to assist, but actively made the pandemic worse by spreading dangerous misinformation and attacking state and local officials. Many of the deaths that American families are now mourning should weigh on his conscience. They were preventable by sound administration, which he failed to provide.

America’s national security is inseparable from its domestic practice. Who we are as a political culture is how we act as a state internationally. And who we are becoming in the Trump era worries us profoundly. Donald Trump inflames prejudices, inciting political, racial, and ethnic divisions that weaken our nation. He undermines the rule of law and dangerously labels journalists as enemies of the people. He solicited—and continues to solicit—foreign influence to assist his election. He is corroding our institutions of governance and those that protect us.

We describe our concerns in detail in advertisements that will be running in local and national newspapers in the coming days. But our main point is that we fear for our country if Donald Trump is re-elected.

All of us have some misgivings about policies a potential Biden presidency would enact. But we yearn for a return to normalcy—to arguing policies on their merits and within norms of behavior that aren’t a danger to the Constitution and the institutions of democracy in America. For now, we believe it is imperative that we stop Trump’s assault on our nation’s values and institutions and reinstate the moral foundations of our democracy.

Albert Camus wrote in The Plague that “All I can say is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims—and as far as possible one must refuse to be on the side of the pestilence.”

Please refuse to be on the side of the pestilence. Please join us in taking seriously the threat that Donald Trump’s presidency poses to the security of our country.

Kori Schake

Kori Schake worked on the National Security Council staff and in the Department of State in the George W. Bush administration.