Clinton Assails Trump's Cuts to State Department She Led

  • Trump’s former adversary is turning up volume on criticism
  • White House has defended cuts in service of ‘hard power’

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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday criticized President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to foreign aid and urged the administration not to retreat from engagement with the world, saying the moves would threaten the nation’s safety.

"We are seeing signals of a shift that should alarm us all," the former Democratic presidential nominee said during a speech at Georgetown University in Washington. "This administration’s proposed cuts to international health, development and diplomacy would be a blow to women and children and a grave mistake for our country."

Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget would cut spending for international programs including the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by 28.5 percent, to $27.1 billion. Several foreign assistance and other international development projects would be eliminated.

Clinton also said the Trump administration should cease the diminishment of U.S. leadership at international groups including the United Nations. She spoke at a ceremony for an award given annually in her name to global leaders who advocate for women.

“I am pleading that our government will continue its leadership role on behalf of peace in the world,” she said. “The world must continue this work with or without U.S. involvement and the choice is ours to make.”

Clinton has begun to more regularly speak out against her former campaign opponent. Addressing a women’s conference in San Francisco earlier this week, she criticized the president for putting together a leadership team with the smallest proportion of women "in a generation." She also knocked White House press secretary Sean Spicer for chastising a female reporter after she shook her head in response to his answer to a question during a White House press briefing.

Trump has returned the favor, recently recycling old allegations against Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, on Twitter.

In February, more than 120 retired generals and admirals signed a letter urging Congress to block Trump’s State Department and USAID cuts, saying the agencies help save the military from fighting wars.

"These distinguished women and men who have served in uniform recognize that turning our back on diplomacy won’t make our country safer, it will undermine our security and our standing in the world," Clinton said.

The White House has defended its budget proposals as a shift toward funding “hard power” -- the military and border security -- at the expense of “soft power.” But there appears to be little appetite for the approach in Congress, where both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have criticized Trump’s budget.

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