Defense

Pelosi confers with top general on preventing ‘unhinged’ Trump from launching nuclear strike

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke with the nation’s top general about options for preventing President Trump from launching a nuclear weapon during his final days in office, she said Friday.

In a letter to colleagues reflecting on the week when pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol, Pelosi outlined a call with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley that she described as aimed at “preventing an unhinged president from using the nuclear codes.”

“This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike,” she wrote. “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’s letter gave no indication on what Milley’s response or advice was.

Milley’s spokesperson, Col. Dave Butler, said in a brief statement that Pelosi initiated the call and that the general “answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority.”

On Wednesday, rioters incited by Trump stormed the Capitol while Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Lawmakers were forced to shelter in undisclosed locations while police officers struggled to regain control of the building, and five people, including a Capitol Police officer, have died as a result of the mayhem.

The assault on democracy has led to increased calls for Trump’s removal from office before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, either through the 25th Amendment or impeachment.

House Democrats are slated to hold a conference call Friday afternoon to discuss the way forward, and they appear to be racing toward impeachment.

Removing Trump through the 25th Amendment would require Vice President Pence and a majority of Cabinet officials to declare he is unable to fulfill his duties as president, and Pence is reportedly opposed to the idea.

Among the concerns fueling calls for Trump’s removal are what he could do with his authorities as commander in chief in the next two weeks, including his most destructive power — launching a nuclear weapon.

Presidents have sole authority to order a nuclear strike. Service members do not have to obey an unlawful order, but nuclear nonproliferation advocates have warned that is not enough of a check because military counsel leans toward a presumption of legality.

Ellen Mitchell contributed to this report, which was updated at 12:50 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Mark Milley Nancy Pelosi Nuclear strikes Nuclear weapons

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