Memo: Trump Unfit To Be Commander In Chief


Today, Jake Sullivan, Hillary for America Senior Policy Advisor, released the following memo outlining the campaign’s arguments as to why they believe Donald Trump is unfit to be president. The full release and video are below.

To: Interested Parties
From: Jake Sullivan, Hillary For America Senior Policy Adviser
Re: Trump Unfit To Be Commander In Chief
Date: Monday, August 15, 2016

This is not a normal election. Simply put, Donald Trump is unfit to be our commander in chief. This isn’t overcranked campaign rhetoric – national security experts across the political spectrum are issuing the same warning.

Trump is erratic. He’s thin-skinned. He’s vindictive. He praises dictators and displays a strange affinity for Putin. He trash talks America and threatens to abandon our allies. He uses dangerous rhetoric and proposes dangerous policies that play into the hands of terrorists. He talks casually about nuclear weapons. He knows nothing about foreign policy and he has no interest in learning.

Last week, we got yet another clear and alarming reminder of his lack of fitness for the job.  Reading off the talking points of Vladimir Putin and our other adversaries, Trump falsely claimed that Barack Obama founded ISIS. The world noticed. Just days later, the leader of Hezbollah – a terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s destruction – approvingly quoted Trump’s comments.

Hillary Clinton is uniquely qualified and prepared to assume the role of commander in chief. And Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified. She has serious plans to make our country more secure, and a record of leadership to back it up. He has neither. She is proud to call herself an American and of her work as a public servant. He calls America a third-world country.

The choice is clear. It’s not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican, but between a responsible leader who will keep us safe, and a volatile man who threatens our security.


Arrogance And Ignorance: A Dangerous Combination

When it comes to foreign policy – just like everything else – Donald Trump is convinced he knows more than anyone in the room. Asked who he consults to help shape his views, Trump explained that he mostly just relies on himself because he has “a very good brain.” His lack of interest in learning from others is reflected in his lack of knowledge of basic facts on foreign affairs:

  • Donald Trump on who he speaks to on foreign policy: “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”
  • Donald Trump on foreign policy experts: “Honestly, most of them are no good.”
  • Donald Trump: “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”
  • USA Today: Trump attributes Russia knowledge to hosting Miss Universe pageant there
  • Boston Globe Editorial: “Not only did Trump not know the basics of the US nuclear triad (the Pentagon’s land, sea, and air contingent of nuclear forces)…”
  • Washington Post: Trump’s top example of foreign experience: A Scottish golf course losing millions
  • Weekly Standard: Trump Confuses Iran’s Quds Forces and Kurds Fighting ISIS

Proposals Trump Has Made Would Make Us Less Safe

Donald Trump has offered a lot of rhetoric but very few actual proposals. The few plans he has put forth – like his Muslim ban – are out of step with our values and our common sense. From suggesting we should abandon our allies to calling for bringing back torture, Trump’s policies would make us less safe. Some align with Vladimir Putin’s interests and not with American interests; others play into ISIS’ hands:

  • Donald Trump: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.
  • Donald Trump: “It’s really rather amazing, maybe Syria should be a free zone for ISIS, let them fight and then you pick up the remnants.”
  • Vox: Donald Trump: make America great again by letting more countries have nukes
  • Donald Trump: “We don’t really need NATO in its current form. NATO is obsolete… if we have to walk, we walk.”
  • BBC: Trump says US may abandon automatic protections for NATO countries
  • Politico: Trump calls Geneva Conventions ‘the problem’
  • Donald Trump: “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families”
  • Donald Trump: “Don’t tell me it doesn’t work — torture works… Waterboarding is fine, but it’s not nearly tough enough, ok?”
  • Donald Trump: “The case could be made, that let [Japan] protect themselves against North Korea. They’d probably wipe them out pretty quick….Good luck, folks, enjoy yourself. If they fight, that would be terrible, right? But if they do, they do.
  • AP: Donald Trump encourages Russian hackers to spy on Hillary Clinton
  • Politico: Trump changed views on Ukraine after hiring Manafort
  • New York Times: “It is not clear that Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine ended with his work with Mr. Trump’s campaign. A communications aide for Mr. Lyovochkin, who financed Mr. Manafort’s work, declined to say whether he was still on retainer or how much he had been paid.”
  • Mother Jones: Is Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager Still on the Payroll of a Ukrainian Political Leader?
  • New York Times: “Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.”
  • New York Times: “A separate deal also funneled Russian-linked oligarchic money into Ukraine… Mr. Deripaska agreed to pay a 2 percent annual management fee to Mr. Manafort and his partners, and put $100 million into the fund…”

Dangerous Rhetoric: Trump Praises Dictators, Bashes America And Our Leaders, Stokes Islamophobia

The Trump *candidacy* alone is undermining our national security.  He is the nominee representing one of America’s two major political parties.  His words matter.  Whether he’s praising dictators, channeling the talking points of our enemies, attacking American leaders and those who have sacrificed the most for our country, or stoking Islamophobia, those words are doing harm to our friends and emboldening our adversaries:

  • Donald Trump: “You’ve got to give [Kim Jong Un] credit. How many young guys — he was like 26 or 25 when his father died — take over these tough generals…. It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle. He wiped out this one, that one.”
  • NBC News: Trump Calls Tiananmen Square Protests a ‘Riot,’ Defends Calling Crackdown ‘Strong’
  • Donald Trump: “I will tell you in terms of leadership [Putin] is getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well.”
  • Washington Post: Donald Trump praises Saddam Hussein for killing terrorists ‘so good’
  • Huffington Post: Trump Once Praised Tyrants For Not Being Politically Correct
  • Washington Post: The 100-plus times Donald Trump assured us that America is a laughingstock
  • New York Times: Donald Trump Calls Obama ‘Founder of ISIS’ and Says It Honors Him
  • ABC News: Hezbollah Leader Echoes Trump That Obama, Clinton Founded ISIS
  • Donald Trump: “[John McCain’s] not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured, ok? I hate to tell you.”
  • BuzzFeed: Trump: I Don’t Regret McCain Comments, My Poll Numbers Went Up
  • Donald Trump on our generals: “Well, they don’t know much, because they’re not winning.”
  • Washington Post: Donald Trump says he ‘always wanted to get the Purple Heart’
  • Reuters: Trump’s Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Is Fueling More Islamophobic Incidents

Independent and Republican Experts Agree: Trump Is Uniquely Dangerous

When all of this is taken together, it paints a striking picture: Donald Trump isn’t a normal presidential nominee. He is a uniquely dangerous candidate. The result? Foreign policy experts across the board – from lifelong Republicans to apolitical national security officials – are speaking out to say they cannot accept the prospect of a Trump presidency:

  • New York Times (8/8/16): 50 G.O.P. Officials Warn Donald Trump Would Put Nation’s Security ‘at Risk’: “He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander in chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”
  • Washington Post (8/8/16): Former GOP national security officials: Trump would be ‘most reckless’ American president in history
  • Washington Post (8/4/16): Republicans are among a new list of foreign policy experts denouncing Trump: “We find Trump’s comments to be reckless, dangerous, and extremely unwise.  They contradict a core, bipartisan principle found in every U.S. administration — that our security in North America is indivisible with our democratic allies in Europe.”
  • Washington Post (3/3/16): Trump is ‘fundamentally dishonest,’ say GOP national security leaders in open letter: “[Trump’s] vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence.”
  • Former Acting CIA Director Mike Morell: In sharp contrast to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has no experience on national security. Even more important, the character traits he has exhibited during the primary season suggest he would be a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief…. In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”
  • GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger: “I’m an American before I’m a Republican. I’m saying for me personally, how can I support that? Because he’s crossed so many red lines that a commander in chief or a candidate for commander in chief should never cross.”
  • GOP Rep. Richard Hanna: “[Trump’s] unhinged. It’s difficult to imagine why anyone could support him. He comes across as a demagogue. He comes across as a guy who, frankly, Putin has made a fool of.”
  • ABC News: Gen. John Allen Says Donald Trump Could Cause ‘Civil Military Crisis’: “What we do have to do, George, is listen to what he’s been saying about our military,” Allen said. “He’s called it a disaster. He says our military can’t win anymore. That’s a direct insult to every single man and woman who’s wearing the uniform today.”
  • Defense One: Former Bush Officials — Negroponte and Donley — Endorse Clinton. Former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley: “Her deep experience in public service, even temperament, willingness to listen to others and unifying message stands in stark contrast with Donald Trump, who has sown divisiveness at home, confused our allies abroad and shown repeatedly that he lacks the temperament, judgment, character and common decency the American people deserve and should expect in their leadership.”
  • PoliticsUSA: Former Reagan/Bush Ambassador Calls Trump Incompetent As Republicans Flock To Clinton: “The Republican nominee for President has no government experience and has done nothing in his career to demonstrate that he is competent to be President. He has made repeated misstatements and inaccurate statements. He has insulted minorities, women, a war hero and Gold Star parents. He is unqualified and unfit to be President.”
  • Republican foreign policy expert Max Boot: “Trump is an ignorant demagogue who traffics in racist and misogynistic slurs and crazy conspiracy theories. He champions protectionism and isolationism — the policies that brought us the Great Depression and World War II.”

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