58 ex-national security officials rebuke Trump over emergency declaration

A group of former national security officials issued a joint letter Monday condemning President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE’s declaration of a national emergency to divert funds to build his wall on the southern border.

In the 13-page document, the former officials — including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperTrump denies knowledge of Barr meeting in Italy, says it would be appropriate We need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats Whistleblowers and the hypocrisy of the ruling class MORE, former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelGOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel White House aide moves to lobbying firm Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE and former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — argue that the president’s declaration undermines the purpose of the national declaration and will ultimately damage the country's security.

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“We are aware of no emergency that remotely justifies such a step. The President’s actions are at odds with the overwhelming evidence in the public record, including the administration’s own data and estimates,” the letter reads.

And the former officials argue that Trump’s declaration has “further eroded his credibility with foreign leaders, both friend and foe.”

“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,” they wrote.

The vast majority of the letter's signatories served during the Obama or Clinton administrations.

Many of the former officials who signed the letter and worked during Republican administrations have also been critical of Trump. For example, signatory John McLaughlin, who held the No. 2 spot at the CIA under former President George W. Bush, has publicly spoken out against the president.

Trump declared a national emergency after Congress passed a federal spending bill that did not include the $5.7 billion funding for a wall on the southern border that he had initially demanded.

His emergency declaration would divert other funds toward building a border wall.

The open letter was published one day before the House is set to vote on a resolution blocking the declaration.

The former officials, who also include former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta and former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryOvernight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate Democrats' debate divisions open the race to new (or old) faces MORE, wrote that they support a president having the authority to mobilize resources in the case of a “genuine” national emergency.

“But under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the President to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border,” they wrote.

They also argue that Trump’s directive will undermine national security and foreign policy.

“In the face of a nonexistent threat, redirecting funds for the construction of a wall along the southern border will undermine national security by needlessly pulling resources from Department of Defense programs that are responsible for keeping our troops and our country safe and running effectively,” the letter reads.

Trump has repeatedly clashed with the intelligence community since taking office and is considering ousting his handpicked director of national intelligence, Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats281 lobbyists have worked in Trump administration: report Former intelligence chief Coats rejoins law firm Remembering leaders who put country above party MORE.

The president most recently criticized intelligence officials after testimony they gave before the Senate last month conflicted with his own foreign policy goals, including the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. But Trump appeared to back down after he said the officials told him the media mischaracterized their public testimony and open hearing.