McMullin officially launches presidential bid
© Getty Images/EvanMcMullin.com

Evan McMullin officially launched his independent presidential bid on Monday afternoon with swipes at Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRep. John Katko: Why I became the first Republican lawmaker to support impeachment Can we protect our country — from our rulers, and ourselves? For Joe Biden, an experienced foreign policy team MORE.

McMullin, a veteran of the CIA and a former House Republican Conference policy adviser, is launching his campaign amid GOP angst over Trump, the party's presidential nominee.

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"Donald Trump appeals to the worst fears of Americans at a time we need unity, not division," McMullin wrote in an open letter published on his website. "Republicans are deeply divided by a man who is perilously close to gaining the most powerful position in the world, and many rightly see him as a real threat to our Republic.

"Given his obvious personal instability, putting him in command of our military and nuclear arsenal would be deeply irresponsible," McMullin added. "His infatuation with strongmen and demagogues like Vladimir Putin is anathema to America values. We cannot and must not elect him."

McMullin also slammed Clinton as failing to meet "the basic tests of judgment and ethics any candidate for President must meet."

"Hillary Clinton is a corrupt career politician who has recklessly handled classified information in an attempt to avoid accountability and put American lives at risk including those of my former colleagues," McMullin wrote.

McMullin said Clinton and Trump represent "symbols of corruption and excess that provide no hope of basic competence in the federal government."

"With the stakes so high for our nation and at this late stage in the process, I can no longer stand on the sidelines," McMullin said in his letter, accompanied by a series of tweets blasting the two major party candidates.

McMullin, a Mormon, signaled support for principles including embracing "human life from conception until death." He also vowed to rein in the national debt and  focus on the Constitution.

But McMullin's bid is a longshot at best.

He has little name recognition outside GOP national security circles in Washington, D.C., and is seen at best as a potential spoiler for Trump The party's nominee remains a divisive figure among the GOP rank-and-file and has slipped in polls behind Clinton.

News of McMullin's bid first emerged Monday morning. He penned his open letter shortly after Trump delivered an economic address in Detroit.

Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" first reported on McMullin's bid.

He said McMullin would likely try to get on the ballot in 20 to 30 states.

This story was updated at 3:26 p.m.