Fifty-eight former senior national security officials, both Democrat and Republican, will issue a statement Monday saying “there is no factual basis” to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the US southern border.
“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,” the statement reads.
The Washington Post was first to report on the statement.
Signers of the 11-page statement include: Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under President Bill Clinton; John Kerry, secretary of state under President Barack Obama; Chuck Hagel, Obama’s defense secretary; Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser; Thomas Pickering, President George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations; and Eliot Cohen, State Department counselor under President George W. Bush.
On February 15, the President declared a national emergency to unlock billions of dollars in federal funding to build a wall on part of the US southern border. The move bypassed Congress after lawmakers refused to allocate the $5.7 billion dollars Trump demanded in funding for the wall, and came after the longest government shutdown in US history.
Sixteen states filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s national emergency declaration. Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are also suing the administration over the issue.
The statement from the former national security officials comes as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on a resolution blocking Trump’s declaration. House Democrats introduced a resolution last week to block his effort to build a wall through his emergency powers, even though Trump has promised to veto the measure.
The statement says Trump’s declaration goes against the administration’s own data and calls the President’s actions unprecedented. It dismisses the administration’s rationale for the declaration, including crime, terrorism, and human trafficking. The statement argues the declaration will make many of those situations worse, arguing the declaration “will only exacerbate the humanitarian concerns that do exist at the southern border.”
The statement reads, “a wall is unnecessary to support the use of the armed forces,” and argues that redirecting money for the wall through the emergency declaration “will undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.”
It argues illegal border crossings are at a nearly 40-year low, and that there is no documented terrorism or violent crime emergency at the border.”
The statement says Trump’s proclamation has “further eroded his credibility with foreign leaders, both friend and foe.”