Open Questions on National Security for President-Elect Donald Trump

Donald Trump gives a foreign policy speech at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2016.

The Center for American Progress National Security and International Policy team is deeply committed to the democratic values that have made America great and is collectively determined to ensure that America remains secure, prosperous, and just.

The initial steps taken by President-elect Donald Trump, including the nomination of several manifestly unsuited candidates for key national security positions, raise a series of very serious questions that the administration will need to answer in the days and weeks ahead.

We call upon President-elect Trump to:

  • Publicly reveal all potential international conflicts of interest among his business holdings and place all of his business assets in a blind trust—not managed by family members, which is an obvious conflict of interest—to avert running afoul of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Allow the IRS to indicate a timeline for the completion of his most recent audit so that he may fulfill his pledge to release his tax returns to further ensure no conflicts of interest in executing U.S. foreign or domestic policy.
  • Direct his choice for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, to publicly disclose all financial payments and consulting arrangements from foreign governments and to release a detailed record of all communications with Russian and Turkish officials or agents, including during the election period.
  • Join with his incoming secretaries of defense, state, and homeland security to provide details on his plan to defeat the Islamic State and clarify how his avowed war on radical Islamic terrorism will be waged and the metrics for which its success should be gauged.
  • Join with his national security appointees to clarify how his commitment to a no-fly zone over Syria will be enforced, what allies would participate in such an effort, and its likely duration.
  • Join with his incoming attorney general and secretaries of homeland security and defense to make an unequivocal vow that in their confirmation hearings, they will both recuse themselves and not impede investigations into Russian interference in the recent U.S. elections and links to WikiLeaks hacks.
  • Direct his secretary of state and U.S. Department of Defense nominees to reconfirm the nation’s long-standing commitment to treaty obligations to U.S. allies in NATO and in Asia.
  • Direct his incoming secretaries of defense and state to make clear their view of the illegal occupation of Crimea by Russian forces and the role of Russia in downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine.
  • Join with his national security appointees to explain the mechanics and ramifications of the United States canceling all pledged support to the United Nations for addressing the increasingly severe challenges of global warming.
  • Immediately outline the details of his plan to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon if he dismantles the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
  • Immediately commit publicly not to ban anyone from entering the United States based solely on race, religion, or any other basis that would violate U.S. values.
  • Immediately outline his plans for preventing North Korea from advancing its nuclear and missile programs.
  • Immediately commit to nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • Join with his new U.S. Agency for International Development administrator to commit not to reinstate the Mexico City Policy on international family planning, a policy which has been demonstrated to both increase the number of abortions worldwide and deny millions of women essential and lifesaving health services.

The transition period for President-elect Trump has already been badly marred by confusion, poor personnel choices, and obvious conflict of interest. If President-elect Trump hopes to avoid further damage to U.S. national interest and standing in the world, it is incumbent upon him to clearly and unequivocally answer the many troubling questions now swirling around his administration’s conduct of international affairs.