Trump’s ex-Coast Guard chief backs Biden after president’s dismissal of science and ‘irrevocable’ damage to environment

Retired Admiral Paul Zukunft, who left his post in 2018, said Mr Trump had caused ‘irrevocable’ damage to the environment

Louise Boyle
New York
Friday 25 September 2020 20:19
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Donald Trump’s former Coast Guard chief is backing Joe Biden, in part because of the president’s anti-science stance on the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Retired Admiral Paul Zukunft, who left his post in 2018, told Politico that Mr Trump had caused “irrevocable” damage to the environment.

 The military leader pointed to the president’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which has been backed by almost every country in an effort to cut global emissions and curb temperature rise to well below 2C this century. 

Mr Trump can officially pull the US from the Paris deal if he wins re-election in November. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has vowed to rejoin the global agreement if he is elected to the White House.

Adm. Zukunft told Politico that leaving the climate deal without another solution, along with other Trump policies, have damaged America’s reputation on the world stage. 

He also described the Trump presidency as an "insurgency" on Americans' constitutional rights.

"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. I am concerned that our constitutional rights are being infringed upon from within,' he told Politico.

This week, President Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election in November drew rebukes from both sides of the aisle. 

High-ranking members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, rejected Mr Trump’s remarks after he said he’ll “see what happens” before agreeing to the election results.

The president has repeatedly made baseless allegations about the legitimacy of mail-in voting, and even told voters to cast their ballots twice, which is illegal. 

Adm. Zukunft was one of hundreds of officials who added their names to an open letter, published on Thursday that read: “We are 489 retired Generals, Admirals, Senior Noncommissioned Officers, Ambassadors and Senior Civilian National Security Officials supporting Joe Biden for President.”

Also on the list is another senior military official who served the Trump administration. Retired Air Force General Paul Selva was the second-highest ranking officer in the military until he stepped down in August last year.

Two defense secretaries, Ash Carter and Chuck Hagel, who served under President Obama as well as Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy in the George W. Bush administration, have added their names to the letter.

The letter reads: "We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.” ​

“We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs.”

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