84 Republican national security and foreign policy leaders say they won’t back Trump if nominated
By Miriam Raftery
March 3, 2016 (Washington D.C.) – An open letter signed by 84 Republican foreign policy and national security leaders condemned Donald Trump, stating, “We are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head.”
The leaders’ letter comes on the heels of former CIA director and ex-National Security Agency director Michael Hayden stating that if Trump ordered torture which violates the Geneva Convention or ordered the killing of family members of suspected terrorists, the military would disobey his orders. Hayden told Bill Maher, “If he were to order that once in government, the American armed forces would refuse to act.”
The 84 Republican letter signers included Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security director under George W. Bush and former Under Secretary of Defense Policy Eric Edelman who served under the senior George Bush.
"His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle," the leaders warned. "He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence."
They slammed his support for “expansive use of torture”, making inflammatory statements on immigration,promoting trade wars, and voicing admiration for dictators such as Russian president Vladimir Putin. They also condemned Trump’s “hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric” that the signers said could alienate partners in the Islamic world and endanger the safety and Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of American Muslims.
“He is fundamentally dishonest,” they went on, citing Trump’s false statements about his past support of the 2003 Iraq War and Libyan conflict in2011. “Mr. Trump’s 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 n the world.”
The experts on national security and foreign policy also cited Trump failures in business, adding, “his equation of business acumen with foreign policy experience is false. Not all lethal conflicts can be resolved as a real estate deal might, and there is no recourse to bankruptcy court in international affairs.”
They also voiced alarm over Trump’s view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors, adding that it “poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States.”
Trump responded by denigrating his detractors. “They’re chopping off people’s heads in the Middle East and we’re afraid to waterboard,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” adding, “General Douglas MacArthur and General Patton are in their graves right now spinning…They don’t believe what they’re seeing.”
Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan issued strongly wording statements critical of Trump for failing to denounce the backing of Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, indicating that bigotry has no place in the Republican party though both left the door open to support Trump if nominated, the New York Times reports.
Trump claimed he needed to “research” the KKK first. Trump’s father was once arrested at a KKK riot and was also the target of a successful Civil Rights action by the Justice Department that resulted in a consent decree to force racial integration of housing projects owned by Trump Sr., the Village Voice reported.Trump's ex-wife, Ivanka, has told the press he kept a book of Hitler speeches by his bedside and regularly read them. Business Insider reports that Trump denied this but a friend confirmed giving him the Hitler speech book, My New Order.
While many GOP leaders are taking steps to distance themselves from Trump, others have not. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie endorsed Trump after ending his own presidential campaign. San Diego Congressman Duncan D. Hunter has also endorsed Trump, calling him a "strong leader."
At tonight’s Republican debate, Trump opponents Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich all indicated they would reluctantly support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination, despite their harsh criticism of him during the campaign. (Ben Carson did not participate in the debate, announcing shortly before the event that he sees “no path forward” for his campaign after failing to win any primaries or caucuses.)
Though Trump has won numerous primary and caucus states, he has not received a majority of Republican votes in even a single state. He could well reach the Republican National Convention without a majority of delegates.
Media outlets including National Public Radio are now suggesting Republicans may resort to a brokered convention to try and block a Trump does not secure the nomination. Such an action might or might not succeed in handing over the nomination to one of Trump’s rivals or a last minute entry such as Romney. But such a move could also anger and alienate Trump’s sizeable voting block, potentially splintering the party. Trump's supporters have been drawn to his "make America great" message in part due to simmering dissatisfaction with the party, as well as to his perceived business acumen and hardline stances on immigration.
There are also third party candidates talking about entering the race, including independent Minnesota Governor and former wrestling champion Jesse Ventura, who has said he will run if Trump and Hillary Clinton are the respective nominees for the Republican and Democratic parties, or former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has criticized Trump and progressive Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and told CNN he may enter the fray.
If Trump loses the Republican nomination, the reality show host known for his “You’re fired” line may not go gracefully into the night. He has previously threatened repeatedly to launch an independent run for the presidency if Republican delegates choose another candidate, though in the latest debate, indicated after a pause that he would support the party nominee.