WASHINGTON, FEB 26– A group of 58 U.S. former national security officials said in a joint letter Monday that the emergency declaration issued by U.S. President Donald Trump to get funds for a border wall undermined national security.
“We are aware of no emergency that remotely justifies such a step,” the 13 page document said. “The President’s actions are at odds with the overwhelming evidence in the public record, including the administration’s own data and estimates.”
The move from Trump “further eroded his credibility with foreign leaders, both friend and foe,” the letter said. “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.”
Signatories of the letter include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Most of them were members of the Clinton or Obama administrations.
The letter listed four aspects where Trump’s declaration was “unprecedented,” including that the declaration addressed an ongoing situation instead of one that had arisen suddenly, that the situation had been improving rather than deteriorating, that it seeks to allocate money against clear congressional intentions and that it runs against assertions from inside and outside of his administration.
“There is no factual basis for the declaration of a national emergency for the purpose of circumventing the appropriations process and reprogramming billions of dollars in funding to construct a wall at the southern border, as directed by the presidential proclamation,” the letter concluded.
Trump declared a national emergency on Feb. 15, citing security risks at the Southwest border with Mexico. With the declaration, Trump would be able to tap into defense and other funds to finance a border wall, his major campaign promise.
The move drew fierce backlash from Democrats, who say it was a breach of executive power, while some Republicans were also uneasy that Trump’s actions may set a bad precedent for future Democratic presidents.
Congress will soon likely vote on a resolution to block Trump’s emergency declaration. While it is all but guaranteed to pass the House, it would need a handful of Republican votes to clear the Senate.
If Trump vetoes the resolution, Congress needs two-thirds majority in both chambers to override it. – XINHUA