— -- Fifty former national security officials whose careers span more than four decades released a letter today critical of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, stating that they would not vote for the real estate mogul in November.
The statement — signed by a former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, ex-secretaries of homeland security and former top aides and advisers for the White House, State Department and Department of Justice, among others — is the latest in a series of public rebukes of Trump’s capacity to guide the nation’s defense and foreign policy by former government leaders.
“Donald Trump is not qualified to be president and commander-in-chief,” reads the letter. “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 goes on to assail Trump for what the authors say is his uncertain temperament, his lack of knowledge of U.S. laws and the Constitution and his complimentary attitude toward some of the country’s adversaries.
“Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values and experience to be president,” the letter reads. “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”
Among those who signed the letter are Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, both of whom served as secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush, and retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who directed the NSA and CIA.
Last week another ex-director of the CIA, Michael Morell, publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton and shared similar concerns about a possible Trump presidency. Morell specifically criticized Trump’s behavior regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“[Putin] played this perfectly. He saw that Donald Trump wanted to be complimented, [so] he complimented him,” said Morell during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “And Donald Trump didn’t even understand ... that Putin was playing him.
“So in Putin’s mind, I have no doubt he thinks that [Trump is] an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
Trump responded to the letter later in the day, blasting the authors of the letter for leading the U.S. into foreign entanglements.
"The names on this letter are the ones the American people should look to for answers on why the world is a mess," said the statement from Trump. "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."
The signatories of Monday’s letter join a growing list of current and former public officials who have publicly voiced their displeasure with Trump in recent weeks after controversial comments on a number of issues, from NATO to email hacking.
However, unlike some who also took the step to endorse Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the letter’s signers did not pledge to vote for a different candidate.
“We understand that many Americans are profoundly frustrated with the federal government and its inability to solve pressing domestic and international problems,” reads the letter. “We also know that many have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us. But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election.”