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Former national security officials fight back as Trump attacks impeachment as ‘deep state’ conspiracy

The debate over President Trump’s fitness for office amid the House-led impeachment inquiry has put renewed scrutiny on national security officials who served in his administration to speak out, even as the president ramps up efforts to discredit the investigation as a “deep state” plot to destroy him.

Over the past week, several former officials have spoken critically of Trump’s conduct and his foreign policy, lending weight to the picture of a president motivated by political interests with little regard for policy expertise, legal boundaries or institutional restraints.

Although the critiques have not all directly addressed the focus of the House investigation — Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden — they have added to the case being made by the president’s critics that he is putting U.S. security at risk.
Recent remarks by former national security adviser John Bolton and former State Department presidential envoy Brett McGurk — along with an open letter from a large group of national security figures including some who served under Trump — represent the latest clash between the president and the experts charged with keeping the nation safe.

Trump has feuded with the national security community since many in the Republican establishment opposed his candidacy in 2016. And throughout the investigation into Russian interference in that election, the president sought to disparage U.S. intelligence agencies as a part of a politically motivated campaign to sabotage his presidency and sought to target some who spoke against him as partisan foils.
Those who have come forward since the Ukraine impeachment inquiry was announced said they are determined to make clear that Trump’s conduct falls well outside the institutional boundaries of the presidency.
“What is happening currently is not normal,” said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who served as a U.S. intelligence officer on Russia and Eurasia before stepping down in 2018. “This represents a deviation from the way that these institutions regularly function. And when the institutions don’t work, that is a national security threat.”
She was among 90 national security veterans who signed an open letter published Sunday in support of the anonymous whistleblower who filed a complaint that Trump had acted improperly in asking the Ukranian president to investigate Biden in a July phone call.
Trump has attempted to intimidate other government officials into not cooperating by casting those who offered information to the whistleblower as “close to spies.” The open letter emphasized that the whistleblower “is protected from certain egregious forms of retaliation.”
White House officials did not respond to a request for comment.

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