Former Secretary of State Colin Powell led a group of former national security officials at the Democratic convention Tuesday in denouncing President Trump’s leadership and casting his challenger, Joe Biden, as a steady leader to protect America from dangers around the world.
“With Joe Biden in the White House, you will never doubt that he will stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries — never the other way around,” Powell, a top advisor to three Republican presidents, said in a videotaped speech with the Washington Monument as his nighttime backdrop. “He will trust our diplomats and our intelligence community, not the flattery of dictators and despots.”
In a separate video featuring more than half a dozen other former senior national security officials, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Trump had “degraded and debased the presidency and our country in the eyes of the world.” He said it was a “dereliction of duty” for Trump not to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence reports that his nation was offering bounties to Afghan forces for killing American troops.
“You’re failing the troops,” said Hagel, who was a Republican senator from Nebraska before President Obama put him in charge of the Pentagon. “You’re failing this country.”
Brett McGurk, a former special presidential envoy for the international coalition to defeat Islamic State under both Obama and Trump, said he was shocked that Trump declined to challenge Putin over the reported bounties. In 36 years in the Air Force, he said, “I’ve led space squadrons, nuclear missile squadrons, and I never thought I would have a president who is a danger to national security.”
Also appearing in the video was Marie Yovanovitch, the career foreign service officer who testified in Trump’s impeachment proceedings about her ouster as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in a plot to smear Biden. She said world leaders trust Biden’s judgment and “know that his word is good.”
“He will do the right thing no matter the political cost,” she said.
More than 200 national security experts who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations have endorsed Biden in a letter that asserts Trump poses “an existential danger to the United States.”
The letter, signed by former intelligence officers, diplomats and counterterrorism directors, warns of “catastrophic results” should Trump win a second term, saying, “Democracy itself is at stake.”
Powell, a retired four-star general, was national security advisor to President Reagan, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and secretary of State under President George W. Bush.
Powell crossed party lines to endorse Obama for president in 2008 and 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. In his video endorsing Biden on Tuesday, Powell said American adversaries “will know he means business.”
“He will restore America’s leadership in the world,” Powell said, “and restore the alliances we need to address the dangers that threaten our nation from climate change to nuclear proliferation.”
Former Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, appeared in a separate video making attacks on Trump’s foreign policy.
Under Obama, Kerry claimed, “we stopped Ebola before it became a pandemic. Donald Trump inherited a growing economy and a more peaceful world, and like everything else he inherited, he bankrupted it.”
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