President Donald Trump's former four-star head of the Coast Guard is speaking out on his decision to endorse Joe Biden, saying it's due to an "insurgency" on Americans' constitutional rights that has occurred on the commander in chief's watch.
Retired Adm. Paul Zukunft, who stepped down as commandant of the Coast Guard in June 2018, is one of almost 500 former national security leaders who signed an open letter released Thursday questioning Trump's fitness for command.
"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," Zukunft said. "I am concerned that our constitutional rights are being infringed upon from within."
In addition to his concern over the Constitution, Zukunft said he was driven to endorse Biden by the 2019 government shutdown over funding for Trump's border wall, which left the Coast Guard's active-duty force of more than 40,000 working without pay for several months. He is also concerned by Trump's dismissal of science, both on climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, which Zukunft says has caused "irrevocable" damage to the environment.
Zukunft joined recently retired Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, who was the second-highest ranking officer in the military as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until August 2019, in signing the letter.
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