Foreign Policy

Donald Trump is a National Security Risk. Here’s the current #TrumpThreatLevel.


From his tweets to his bluster to his white supremacist policies, Donald Trump poses a security risk to the United States. He is actively making us less safe with each day in office. Here is a running list of just some of the ways he has threatened our safety—and don't forget to check out our new website, where you can learn more about the current #TrumpThreatLevel.

February 2018

  • Trump wants to bring nuclear arms “back in a big way.” The Trump Administration released the required quadrennial Nuclear Posture Review, which is supposed to set out the United States’ assessment of its nuclear policy. Spoiler: Trump wants to expand, not reduce, our nuclear stockpile, making nukes more available and increasing the likelihood of catastrophic escalations in wars.
  • Trump’s “Muslim registry” could actually happen. A leaked Department of Homeland Security report recommends ramped-up tracking of Muslim immigrants based not on any wrongful behavior, but instead based on their demographics. This sounds pretty unconstitutional and bigoted, and a whole lot like the promised “Muslim registry.”
  • The United States bombed Syria - again. Despite having zero congressional authority, the U.S. military has again bombed pro-government Syrian forces. They claim that they were acting in self-defense, but it begs a bigger question: what’s the Administration’s plan in Syria? What do they think their legal authority is to carry out that plan? We need to know.
  • Trump wants to have a military parade. You’ve probably heard by now that Trump has directed the Pentagon to explore the possibility of having a flashy military parade. This is obviously ridiculous, and just another visual of Trump’s dangerous warmongering that enhances tensions instead of making us safer.
  • ICE wants to expand its reach as Trump’s deportation force even further. Top officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are “actively exploring joining the U.S. Intelligence Community.” This is exactly what privacy and civil liberties advocates have been warning against, since this would mean that information gathered by warrantless surveillance would be available for targeting immigrants.
  • Trump isn’t reading his daily intelligence briefings. Unsurprisingly, Trump “rarely if ever reads the President’s Daily Brief,” which is a summary of the most pressing information from the intelligence community. Despite what Trump may think, watching Fox & Friends and being “like, a smart person” is not a substitute for the PDB when it comes to protecting our national security—and there’s no safety net if he misses something critical.
  • Trump continues to pave the way for war with North Korea, with real consequences. Trump spent an absurd amount of time in his State of the Union address using scare tactics to talk about North Korea, similar to how George W. Bush primed us for a war with Iraq in his own SOTU 15 years earlier.
  • Trump still has not implemented sanctions on Russia. Congress voted 419-3 in the House and 98-2 in the Senate last year to punish Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, but the administration still has not taken steps to implement the mandatory sanctions laid out in the law. This shows he doesn’t take seriously the threat posed by Russia and doesn’t care to confront it.
  • We are losing our best national security professionals. The State Department’s top career diplomat, Tom Shannon, retired. This leaves the State Department with only one career ambassador of the five who were there at the beginning of the Trump Administration. Trump also dropped a highly-qualified professional, Victor Cha, from consideration as ambassador to South Korea, because Cha opposes a military strike in North Korea. That post remains vacant.

January 2018

  • Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller. The New York Times reported that Trump has already tried to fire Special Counsel Mueller, which would be a constitutional crisis. This shows he is not taking seriously Russia’s attempts to interfere in our democracy and undermine our institutions. Here’s what you can do right now to prevent Trump from firing Mueller (and ensure you’re ready if he does).
  • Trump wants to keep Guantanamo open forever. Trump is reportedly planning to issue an executive order rescinding Obama-era policy and attempting to keep the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay open forever, condemning those there to die without charge or fair trial. This gives international terrorism groups a recruitment tool and diminishes the US’ moral credibility on the global stage.
  • Trump is releasing misleading stats on terrorism. The Trump Administration released a bogus “report” on terrorism without even consulting the Department of Homeland Security. This document stretched and misrepresented facts in order to achieve racist conclusions justifying the bigoted Muslim ban. This report comes nearly one year after the original Muslim ban, and shows how this administration continues to inflame racial and religious tensions in the name of “security.”
  • Nineteen Democrats raised the #TrumpThreatLevel by giving the GOP enough votes to push through a bill expanding Trump's surveillance authority. The Senate voted 60-38 to invoke cloture on granting the administration broad spying authority—then they passed the bill itself by a 65-34 margin. This dangerous bill now heads to Trump’s desk. Once he signs it, it will expand his and Jeff Sessions’ ability to search through a massive amount of Americans’ electronic communications without obtaining a warrant.
  • Trump suggested a terrorist attack would be good for his political fortunes. The Washington Post reported that Trump has privately been telling advisers that he doesn’t think the 2018 midterms will be bad for him because Republicans did well in 2002 after the September 11 attacks. If he indeed made these comments, he is displaying a callous disregard for lives in exchange for cheap political points.
  • Rex Tillerson called for open-ended war in Syria. In a speech at Stanford University, Tillerson outlined a strategy for ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This would mean yet another open-ended, strategy-free U.S. war with Trump in the commander's seat.
  • The House—including 65 Democrats—voted to expand Trump’s surveillance authority. The House voted 256-164 to raise the #TrumpThreatLevel by granting the administration broad spying authority. This dangerous bill heads next to the Senate, which will make or break Trump’s  and Sessions’ ability to search through massive amounts of Americans’ electronic communications without obtaining a warrant.
  • Trump is a racist, and it’s dangerous. His remark about “shithole countries” to lawmakers during an immigration meeting on Thursday is further evidence that white supremacy is the lodestar of his administration. This isolates allies and makes it harder for soldiers, diplomats, and activists to do their jobs internationally.
  • New Year, same Trump. Trump started off the year by tweeting about the size of his "Nuclear Button" as he continued to escalate tensions with North Korea, instead of pursuing bold diplomacy to keep us all safe from a new war.

December 2017

  • Trump announced this week that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This was a reckless move that isolates the United States from allies, threatens chances for successful peace talks, and raises the risk of tension and violence in the region.
  • The Trump administration took two other steps that further isolated us from our allies and eroded international norms. The Pentagon changed its policy and decided to embrace cluster munitions, a weapons system that has been banned by the global community. The administration also pulled the United States out of a United Nations project to create more humane conditions for immigrants and refugees.

November 2017

  • The administration continues to gut the State Department, as diplomats leave in droves. African-American, Latinx, and female diplomats in particular have been forced out, which will take decades to reverse.
  • The Pentagon has been deceiving us about troop levels in Syria. Finally, the Administration has acknowledged that we have more than 2,000 troops in Syria—more than four times the number that they previously said were on the ground.
  • Trump is only making the North Korea situation worse. On November 28, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a greater range than any previous missile—great enough to hit the East Coast of the United States. We can’t stress this enough: Trump needs to learn that angrily tweeting at other world leaders is not a suitable alternative to smart, reasoned diplomacy.
  • Meanwhile, he’s driving our allies away and making us vulnerable to attack. On November 29, Trump retweeted bigoted anti-Muslim videos that generated from the fascist, violent “Britain First” movement. This ramped up racial and religious tensions, drew a rare rebuke from our allies in the UK, and provoked fears that there could be violent reactions at US embassies around the world.
  • Putting torture advocates in positions of power. The Senate confirmed Steven Bradbury to be a top lawyer in Trump's administration. Bradbury is a war criminal who helped the Bush administration get away with illegal torture. Trump’s decision to tap him to serve demonstrates the administration’s lack of commitment to protecting human rights, putting us all at risk.
  • Freezing relations with Cuba. Trump issued an executive order on November 8 rolling back some of President Obama’s efforts to restore diplomatic ties, travel and trade with Cuba -- widely regarded as a major foreign policy success. Trump now wants to roll back those successes and further isolate the US, just out of spite.
  • Leaving us behind on climate. Syria signed the Paris Climate Change Accord on November 7, leaving the United States as the only nation that is not a signatory. Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing our communities, and Trump’s isolation of the United States on the issue is embarrassing. His White House also pitched "clean coal" at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, drawing protest and ridicule.
  • Trump is leaving critical diplomatic posts empty. In a Fox News interview on November 2, Trump responded to a question about vacancies at the State Department by saying that he isn’t worried because “the one that matters is me. I am the only one that matters." Trump’s failure to make these appointments leaves us vulnerable to global security threats.

October 2017

  • Trump is trying to use the tragedy in New York to push his white supremacist agenda. He has already responded by tweeting about his Muslim ban, the need for even more “extreme vetting,” and a call to crack down on immigration. He is making us less safe: Tell your MoCs not to let Trump exploit this tragedy.
  • Trump is trying to muddy the water on Russia. Two former Trump associates, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort, have been indicted on charges including conspiracy against the United States. This development is the latest evidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to get closer to the truth. Tell your MoC to protect Mueller from being fired by Trump.
  • Failing to take responsibility for life and death military decisions. On October 4, four American service members died in Niger. It took Trump 12 days to comment publicly on the soldiers’ deaths, and when he was asked about the deaths at a press conference, he resorted to falsely accusing former President Obama of not calling families of the fallen. Trump then deflected responsibility, denying he ordered the mission in Niger at all, passing the blame to his generals.
  • Feuding with the grieving widow of a fallen soldier. Trump spent weeks publicly fighting with the wife of fallen soldier La David Johnson, after insulting her in a phone call overheard by Rep. Federica Wilson. Rather than working to extend his sincere condolences as Commander-in-Chief, Trump continues to use his power to harass and discredit both the Congresswoman and Ms. Johnson.
  • Targeting refugees from 11 countries  as an extension of his Muslim Ban. Trump issued a new executive order that tightens restrictions on refugees fleeing from 11 countries - a list that overlaps significantly with his unconstitutional Muslim Ban. It’s clearer than ever that these actions are about enacting his Islamophobic, white-supremacist vision for America and not about protecting our national security.
  • Trump’s pathetic response to the the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Trump declined to denounce this as an act of terror or to propose credible solutions to end gun violence. It’s clear that Trump didn’t take this tragedy seriously, as he actively refused to support common sense gun safety measures in response. Compare that with his vicious overreaction to the San Bernardino shooting in which he proposed banning all Muslims from the U.S. It’s yet another example of Trump’s white supremacy on display, and how he’s actively making us less safe.
  • Taking us closer to war with Iran. Trump announced on October 13, 2017 that he wants to rip up the Iran nuclear deal that President Obama put in place. This historic achievement keeps a nuclear weapon out of Iran’s hands, and if Trump is successful in killing the deal, we will be facing another North Korea situation and a likely new war.
  • Failing to equip our diplomats. Despite spending plenty of time attempting to ban an entire religion from traveling to the United States, and talking about building a useless wall, Trump has so far failed to appoint qualified, career diplomats to key positions that help keep us safe. As just one example, in the midst of escalating tensions on global security, nuclear weapons and more, Trump has not nominated an Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs - that’s unacceptable.

September 2017

  • Expanding the Muslim Ban. Despite the many losses he has faced in court, Trump has continued to push forward with more and more versions of his “Muslim Ban.” This hateful and unconstitutional policy is a Muslim ban, no matter how many changes he makes. It emboldens bigots in the US and stokes anti-American sentiment abroad, and focuses security resources on meaningless screening procedures instead of focusing on real threats.
  • Gutting funding for peace but ramping up spending for war. Trump’s budget proposed slashing funding for U.S. diplomacy and international aid, in exchange for bloated military and border security spending. We don’t need a wall or a giveaway to war profiteers - we need smart and measured diplomacy.
  • Planning to further roll back protections for civilians. We’ve already seen how reckless Trump is with the protections that currently exist - it’s downright scary to think of the damage he can do if he follows through on repealing Obama-era rules protecting civilians in the U.S. “global war.”
  • Slashing refugees admitted into U.S. Trump has consistently scapegoated refugees, ramping up the idea that they are dangerous. His administration made that rhetoric reality by slashing the maximum amount of refugees allowed into the US down to the lowest level in decades. This shows our international partners that we can’t be counted upon to help solve the global refugee crisis, contributes to right-wing fearmongering about refugees, and inflames racial tensions.

August 2017

  • Banning transgender people from the military. On August 31, 2017, Trump moved to impose a “trans ban” on the U.S. military, which experts say harms national security by creating unnecessary vacancies and damaging morale.
  • Ignoring cybersecurity experts. Eight members of the White House’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council resigned in August, citing Trump’s actions that “threaten the security of the homeland.”
  • Insulting our international friends and allies. Trump has frequently insulted and embarrassed key world leaders, including the prime minister of Australia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the mayor of London. He’s embarrassed us on the world stage and harmed our international relations.
  • Voicing support for war crimes. Trump often suggests that the U.S. should engage in atrocities in order to display their strength and fight terror - sometimes spreading debunked fake stories in the process. From “bombing the shit” out of people to “taking out” terror suspect’s families, to assassinating Muslims with pigs’ blood-soaked bullets - Trump is using his platform of power to support the kinds of human rights violations that the global community has been working to eliminate for decades.
  • Emboldening anti-Muslim and other hate speech. Trump consistently fails to speak out when marginalized communities are threatened or harmed, and refuses to unequivocally condemn white supremacy, choosing instead to say that blame exists “on many sides.” These messages from the highest office in the United States have an effect - hate crimes are on the rise as extremists feel emboldened by Trump’s words.

June 2017

  • Scoffing at Russia’s interference in our democracy. Even as special counsel Mueller and several congressional committees deeply investigate the role that Russian interference played in our elections (and the Trump campaign’s collusion), Trump himself continues to call the situation a “hoax,” and appears totally indifferent to these threats to our democracy.
  • Pulling us out of the Paris Climate Agreement. With his dramatic declaration that the United States would pull out of this historic global partnership on climate change, Trump signaled to the world that the United States can’t be counted on as a partner, and that we don’t take climate change - a major security threat - seriously.

May 2017

  • Providing the weapons for atrocities. Trump secured a massive $110 billion deal with Saudi Arabia in exchange for heavy military machinery - which the Saudis will use to commit war crimes in Yemen. This means that, in exchange to Trump’s own global military expedition, he’s comfortable with the U.S. being complicit in other nations’ war crimes.
  • Recklessly exposing classified information. Trump has proven time and again he can’t be trusted to keep secrets. From spilling information to Russians in the Oval Office to conducting a sensitive meeting about North Korea in public at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s recklessness is dangerous.

April 2017

  • Launching a missile strike in Syria without congressional authorization or a strategy. On April 6, 2017, Donald Trump stunned the nation by unilaterally launching missile strikes against a Syrian base with no Congressional authorization, no explanation of his legal justification prior to the attack, and no apparent strategy for what happens next.
  • Ramping up civilian casualties. From his first botched Yemen raid to the “Mother of All Bombs” dropped on Afghanistan, Trump has demonstrated callous disregard for civilian lives trapped in conflict due to U.S. military force. National security experts - as well as settled international legal norms - tell us this is wrongheaded, and increases anti-American sentiment and makes us more prone to blowback and further violence.

February 2017

  • Leaving open the possibility that even Americans could be thrown in Guantanamo. Trump pledged to “load [Guantanamo] up with bad dudes,” a massive mistake in and of itself, as the notorious site of torture and indefinite detention continues to pose a human rights crisis and opens the U.S. up to security threats. But Trump has indicated that maybe a U.S. citizen could go to Guantanamo - not a remote possibility, as under Trump we are currently holding a U.S. citizen in secret military detention. It should be obvious how wildly unconstitutional this would be - and how it would put us all at risk.

January 2017

  • Saying “torture works.” Even though torture is totally illegal, immoral, and counterproductive, Trump used a major media platform to say “torture works” and he has frequently discussed his fantasy of “fighting fire with fire” and “doing things that are unthinkable almost.” This makes us less safe, damages international norms, and gives extremists plenty of propaganda material.