A group of former President Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton aides are hoping to capitalize on a string of statements against President Trump from retired generals and former defense officials who either worked under Obama or were never fans of Trump.
The group is known as “National Security Action” and founded by former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes and former Clinton aide Jake Sullivan. Also part of the group are former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, and others.
The group sent out an email on Monday that compiled a list of statements from the retired generals and former defense officials.
“Former officials have penned op-eds, signed open statements, and taken part in media interviews to denounce Trump’s attempts to stifle the demonstrations by again mis-using the U.S. military as little more than a political prop on American soil,” an introduction in the email said.
The group compiled statements from:
— Never Trumper Kori Schake, former Pentagon and State Department official, in a Washington Post op-ed on June 8, 2020. Schake wrote a book with retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis before he became Trump’s defense secretary;
— retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under former President George W. Bush who endorsed Obama and Clinton in 2008, 2012, and 2016, from a CNN interview on June 7, 2020;
— retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, former commander of Special Operations Command under Obama in the New York Times on June 6, 2020;
— Obama’s former Defense Secretaries Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Ash Carter, and “86 Other Former Senior Defense Department Officials” in the Washington Post on June 5, 2020;
— “over 500 Former Senior Officials from America’s Diplomatic, Military, and Broader National Security Community” in anti-Trump blog Just Security on June 5, 2020;
— former President Bill Clinton’s former Defense Secretary William Perry on Twitter on June 4, 2020;
— retired Marine Gen. John Allen, former Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan and special envoy under Obama who then endorsed Hillary Clinton, in Foreign Policy on June 3, 2020;
— Mattis, a Democrat who was nominated by Obama as Central Command commander, on June 3, 2020 in the Atlantic;
— former Obama defense official James Miller on June 2, 2020, in the Washington Post;
— and retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who Obama re-nominated as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on June 2, 2020, in the Atlantic.
Victor Davis Hanson, Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, sarcastically called their statements a “coincidental chorus,” in a National Review op-ed.
Within the space of a few hours, there seemed to have been a synchronized chorus from a number of retired generals and admirals — Allen, Mattis, McCaffrey, McRaven, Mullen, Stavridis, and others — voicing shared and scripted warnings to the public of the existential dangers posed by their president.
Hanson challenged these retired officers to cite specific legal instances where Trump has explicitly violated any specific constitutional statute, and said “plenty of U.S. presidents” have called on federal troops to restore order during civil unrest.
Plenty of U.S. presidents, both Democratic and Republican, from the 19th century to the modern age — including Presidents Madison, Lincoln, Cleveland, Hoover, Kennedy, Johnson, and George H.W. Bush — have called on federal troops to restore order during civil unrest, sometimes in support of state governors, sometimes out of worry that violence had spiraled out of their control. A clear majority of recently polled Americans now favor the use of federal troops to quell violence where needed in the present chaos. Are they guilty of abetting their anti-constitutional commander in chief?
He harshly criticized them speaking out in an election year:
2020 is an election year, in which every presidential decision and each response of the opposition has become politicized. In sum, it is not the time for unelected retired generals and admirals to accuse an elected president of being disloyal, a traitor, a fascist, or worthy of being removed or in some way neutralized.