Administration

Trump’s former Coast Guard chief: ‘Our constitutional rights are being infringed upon’

The former head of the Coast Guard under President Trump is defending his decision to join nearly 500 former national security officials in endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Thursday, saying he is “concerned that our constitutional rights are being infringed upon from within.”

Retired Adm. Paul Zukunft said in an interview with Politico Thursday that Trump’s record shows he is unfit for office. 

“I’ve seen an insurgency, if you will, on our constitutional rights and more power being centralized at the executive level that has really divided our nation,” said Zukunft, who stepped down from his commanding role in June 2018. 

As part of his reasoning to support Biden, Zukunft also cited the 2019 government shutdown, which left the Coast Guard’s more than 40,000 active-duty members without pay for months. He also voiced concerns about Trump’s hesitancy to accept scientific reports on the coronavirus pandemic and the effects of climate change. 

Zukunft on Thursday joined nearly 500 other former top officials of the group National Security Leaders for Biden in signing a letter that argued Trump “has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office” and “cannot rise to meet challenges large or small.” 

“Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us,” the group wrote in the letter

The former officials added that “while some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.” 

When asked about the letter by reporters at Thursday’s White House briefing, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded that Trump’s record with the military “speaks for itself.”

“Our military men and women, our veterans love this president for a very distinct reason. Under Obama-Biden, sequestration really gutted our military. You had the Navy at its smallest point ever, and the other military branches were absolutely gutted,” McEnany said. “Then you had President Trump who came in and secured a record amount of funding for our military and our Department of Defense and built up our military.”

The group’s endorsement of Biden comes less than two months before the presidential election. 

While recent polling shows Biden leading nationally, an ABC News-Washington Post poll released this week placed Trump ahead in both Arizona and Florida, two key battleground states.

Tags 2020 Biden campaign 2020 election 2020 endorsements Coast Guard Donald Trump Donald Trump presidential campaign Joe Biden Kayleigh McEnany Paul Zukunft Politico U.S. Coast Guard

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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