On August 8, 50 the New York Times reported that prominent Republican former national security officials, beginning with Michael Hayden, former director of both the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency, and reading like a Who's Who of experts with long records of devotion to protecting the American people from harm, issued a letter stating that Donald Trump "lacks the character, values and experience" to be president and that he would "be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country's national security and well-being."

The NY Times article, with a direct link to the full letter of these distinguished public servants, can be found at:


Among the accusations that the fifty experts, all of whom stated that they would not vote for Trump this fall, made against him was the following, according to the text of the letter itself:

"He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary."

If the above allegations have any merit, it would truly be frightening to install someone who meets that description in the White House, with all of the power of the US government, but without a belief in any of the restraints on this power enshrined in the Constitution.

But the letter gave no explanation or basis for the above experts' statement. Does that mean that it should be disregarded entirely as merely a collection of biased accusations by disgruntled people with failed policies who, in Trump's words as quoted in the same article deserve "the blame for making the world such a dangerous place."?

Or, to the contrary, is the statement that Trump appears to "lack belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws and U.S. institutions" based on statements and actions by Trump that are a matter of public record and are already well known to, or should be, by anyone who has been following this election campaign?

To answer this question, it is instructive to turn to a recent POLITICO Magazine article entitled: Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide


This article, dated August 4, just a few days earlier than the fifty former national security officials' above letter, lays out in great detail, statement by statement, amendment by amendment, the ways in which Trump's proposals are totally opposed to the US Constitution and the democratic values that it stands for.

It is defies reason to suppose that these 50 distinguished Republican former national security officials were unaware of the these statements by Trump, or did not intend to refer to them when they issued their letter.

In this and forthcoming posts, I will discuss Trump's anti-Constitutional statements, as described in chilling detail in the above POLITICO article, further.

I will show why it is not only reasonable to assume that the above fifty experts, who devoted their careers to protecting America's security, must have had these statements (though not necessarily the actual POLITICO article itself) in mind when they issued their letter, but that it would make no sense to think that they were not referring to at least some of these statements by Donald Trump, with all of their mind-boggling implications for the future of our democracy if he is elected president.

I will begin with Trump's views on freedom of religion as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

I will pass over Trump's by now notorious proposal to ban Muslims from around the world from entering the US solely on the basis of religion (more recently modified to target "terrorist" countries only, by which Trump obviously means Muslim ones). This proposal, arguably, violates both the First Amendment's establishment of religion clause and freedom of religion clause with regard to US citizens who wish to sponsor or invite Muslim immigrants (see the US Supreme Court opinions on Kleindienst v. Mandel, 1972)

POLITICO begins with Trump's threat to shut down mosques in the US itself. It quotes Trump as saying, shortly after the Paris attacks last November, with regard of American mosques:

"Nobody wants to say this, and nobody wants to shut down religious institutions or anything, but you know, you understand it. We're going to have no choice. Some really bad things are happening."

One might also mention Trump's equally well known proposals to register Muslim-American citizens or conduct surveillance of them.

With regard to closing mosques, POLITICO comments:

"At its core, Trump's proposal would target a religious institution for sanction becasue of its members' adherence to certain beliefs. It's a textbook example of the kind of action expressly prohibited by the First Amendment - which protects religious liberty and and bans laws that would prohibit the 'free exercise' o religion. This is known as the Free Exercise Clause."

It goes without saying that upholding freedom of religion has been a major part of America's immigration history, at least from the time of the 19th century Know-Nothings who attacked Irish-Catholic immigrants for their alleged first loyalty to the Pope, if not even earlier.

Anti-Catholic prejudice in America was not fully laid to rest until John F. Kennedy, our first Catholic president, as elected in 1960.

In the early part of the 20th century, Jewish immigrants encountered widespread hostility and prejudice based on charges, inflamed in large part by another wealth and famous business mogul Henry Ford, that Jews belonged to an "international Zionist conspiracy" to take over America, and that they also has "Bolshevik" leanings.

In the 1930's, America's doors were almost entirely closed to Jewish refugees from Hitler's concentration camps, based on prejudices not all that different from the ones that are being used to bar all but the comparatively tiny (compared to other Western countries such as Germany) number of 10,000 Syrian Muslim refugees from America today.

Some of Trump's supporters may argue that, in order to protect America from the threat of terrorist attack, it may be necessary to turn a blind eye to the US Constitution, at least where the rights of Muslim US citizens are concerned.

But that is not what these fifty national security experts are saying. They are saying in effect, that America's real national security depends on upholding the Constitution, not in undermining it. Can anyone who seriously cares about this country's national security disregard their expert, professional opinion, based on so many combined years, if not centuries, of devotion to protecting the safety of the American people?

I will turn to next topic, namely the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech, and the serious problems which Donald Trump has with that guarantee, in Part 2 of this series.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from various parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards, so they can contribute their talents and education to America's society and economy, and benefit from the freedoms guaranteed to everyone in America by the US Constitution.

Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com