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58 ex-senior national security officials to censure Trump's emergency declaration

By Darryl Coote
58 ex-senior national security officials to censure Trump's emergency declaration
Former senior national security officials argue that President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency to build physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border harms his credibility with foreign leaders. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of former senior national security officials will issue a statement Monday criticizing President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration.

The joint statement by 58 former diplomats, Cabinet secretaries, intelligence officers and civil servants such as Madeleine Albright, former defense secretary Chuck Hagel and John Kerry, censures Trump's declaration, saying that there is no security issue at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Post reported.

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"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 group said in the letter, which will be entreated into the Congressional record Monday.

The joint statement comes as President Donald Trump has been buffeted by criticism and lawsuits for having declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 15 in order to appropriate funds to build physical barriers there.

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Previously that same day, Trump had signed a bipartisan spending bill, avoiding a second government shutdown. In doing so, the spending bill earmarked only $1.7 billion for barriers along the southern border, much less than the $5.7 billion Trump had asked for.

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Trump declared the national emergency in order to bypass Congress for the funds, a move 16 states say is illegal in a lawsuit California filed last week.

The joint letter on Monday is to support that lawsuit and other actions challenging Trump's national emergency declaration and to force the administration to lay out the legal framework behind it.

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The letter will also be going public a day before the House votes on legislation to block the declaration.

If passed by the House, the resolution will hit the Senate floor to be voted on within 18 days.

The White House has previously said that if it passes the Senate, Trump will veto it.

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The former officials in the statement said that the president's action is unprecedented, CNN reported.

The president is going against all available data and evidence and the declaration "will only exacerbate the humanitarian concerns that do exist at the southern border," the statement said.

It continues that illegal border crossings are a 40-year low, decreasing from 851,000 in 2006 to 62,000 in 2016, and redirecting money to pay for physical barriers "will undermine U.S. national security and foreign policy interests."

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"A wall is unnecessary to support the use of the armed forces," it said, adding that the declaration has further eroded Trump's "credibility with foreign leaders, both friend and foe."

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