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Around 300 former national security officials, diplomats, and ex-White House staff have signed a letter that says President Trump committed "an unconscionable abuse of power" when he attempted to blackmail the president of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, notes from a phone conversation between the two leaders were released to the public and they were disturbing to say the least. During the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate his presumed political opponent in the 2020 election, Joe Biden, in exchange for $400 in military aid.


The call showed Trump was willing to put the national security of an ally as well as the United States at risk to gain leverage over a political rival. Soliciting election help from a foreign country is also a criminal act.

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The letter was organized by National Security Action, a group that says President Trump's leadership is "reckless" and that he's has made the U.S. "weaker in the world, less safe, and more isolated."

The group comprised of former ambassadors, secretaries of state, intelligence officers, advisers and former members of the CIA, State Department, and Department of Defense.

It gave many members the opportunity to make a rare political statement. "Some of us have spoken out, but many of us have eschewed politics throughout our careers and, as a result, have not weighed in publicly," the statement read.

"Having worked across administrations of both parties to uphold and advance those national interests, we consider the President's actions to be a profound national security concern," the statement said.

It called the presidents actions an effort to "subordinate America's national interests—and those of our closest allies and partners—to the President's personal political interest."

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Among the notable signatories are Matthew Olsen, who led the Justice Department's national security division and Nancy McEldowney, the ambassador to Bulgaria. Both served under George W. Bush.

The letter also praised the Democrats for opening up an impeachment inquiry. "We applaud those Members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi, who have now started us down that necessary path," it said.

"The introduction of any other considerations of the President debases our democracy, has the potential to make us more vulnerable to threats, and sends a message to leaders around the world that America's foreign policy can be dangerously corrupted by catering to a single individual," the statement said.

"If we fail to speak up—and act—now our foreign policy and national security will officially be on offer to those who can most effectively fulfill the President's personal prerogatives," the statement continued.

Here's the entire statement in full:

September 27, 2019

As national security professionals, many of us have long been concerned with President Trump's actions and their implications for our safety and security. Some of us have spoken out, but many of us have eschewed politics throughout our careers and,as a result, have not weighed in publicly.

The revelations of recent days, however, demand a response. Specifically, all of us recognize the imperative of formal impeachment proceedings to ascertain additional facts and weigh the consequences of what we have learned and what may yet still emerge. We applaud those Members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi, who have now started us down that necessary path.

President Trump appears to have leveraged the authority and resources of the highest office in the land to invite additional foreign interference into our democratic processes. That would constitute an unconscionable abuse of power. It also would represent an effort to subordinate America's national interests—and those of our closest allies and partners—to the President's personal political interest.

Having worked across administrations of both parties to uphold and advance those national interests, we consider the President's actions to be a profound national security concern. Our relations with the rest of the world and our policies on the global stage must be based solely on what is in the national interest. The introduction of any other considerations of the President debases our democracy, has the potential to make us more vulnerable to threats, and sends a message to leaders around the world that America's foreign policy can be dangerously corrupted by catering to a single individual. If we fail to speak up—and act—now our foreign policy and national security will officially be on offer to those who can most effectively fulfill the President's personal prerogatives.

To be clear, we do not wish to prejudge the totality of the facts or Congress'deliberative process. At the same time, there is no escaping that what we already know is serious enough to merit impeachment proceedings. From there, the facts—and nothing but the facts—should dictate how Congress holds the President to account and signals to the world that our foreign policy and national security are not for sale.
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