House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the nation’s top military officer assured her safeguards are in place in case President Donald Trump seeks to initiate a nuclear strike — something he has the sole authority to do. Pelosi relayed the assurance on a call with Democrats on Friday afternoon, without providing more details, according to a person who heard the briefing. She said she asked because many lawmakers and other Americans had expressed concern.
The comments came after Pelosi said in a letter to fellow Democrats that she spoke to General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about “available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.” “The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy,” Pelosi said in the letter.
Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs, said only that Pelosi initiated the call with the chairman and “he answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority.” The extraordinary request came as Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer are calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to have the cabinet remove Trump from office over his encouragement of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the assurances Pelosi said she received about Trump’s nuclear powers involved standard operating procedures or additional hurdles put in place specifically for Trump. The U.S. doesn’t have a “no first strike” policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Like any commander in chief, Trump’s power is clear: He has the sole authority to use nuclear weapons. The Pentagon must comply with his orders, and under a worst-case scenario, it would take only about five minutes between the president’s decisions and intercontinental ballistic missiles blasting out of their silos.
According to the Federation of American Scientists, Trump’s authority is “inherent in his constitutional role as Commander in Chief.” Military officers could refuse to comply with what they believe is an illegal order and there have been efforts in the past to limit the president’s powers, but Congress currently has no authority to override him. Pelosi’s letter also cited the broader possibility of Trump “initiating military hostilities” before he leaves offices on Jan. 20.
In the last year, House Democrats have sought to limit his ability to launch an attack against Iran, and the president’s critics have expressed increasing concern as tensions have risen in recent weeks that Trump would direct the military to carry out a military strike against the regime in Tehran. In her letter, Pelosi also urged congressional Republicans to urge Trump to depart office immediately. “Nearly fifty years ago, after years of enabling their rogue President, Republicans in Congress finally told President Nixon that it was time to go,” Pelosi wrote, referring to the late Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona and others.
She said that if Trump doesn’t leave office, the House may move to impeach him again. In a conference call Friday with House Democrats, Pelosi said Trump is a dangerous man and that moving forward with impeachment could encourage his advisers to get him to resign. Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm Bloomberg Quicktake brings you live global news and original shows spanning business, technology, politics and culture.
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