US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that she had spoken with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the [nuclear] launch codes” amid increasingly widespread calls for President Trump’s removal from office.
Pelosi’s call to Gen. Mark A. Milley, described in a letter to Democratic colleagues and reported by the New York Times and many other media outlets, came in the wake of a mob’s attack on and temporary occupation of the Capitol, as Congress was in the process of confirming the election of Joe Biden as the next president. The Capitol attack on Wednesday followed a lengthy Trump speech in which he falsely contended the November election had been stolen from him and exhorted a crowd gathered on the National Mall to go to the Capitol, telling them “you will never take back our country with weakness.”
In her letter, Pelosi likened Trump to President Richard Nixon, who resigned as a result of the wide-ranging scandal known as Watergate. “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. “Today, following the President’s dangerous and seditious acts, Republicans in Congress need to follow that example and call on Trump to depart his office—immediately.”
Calls for Trump to resign, be removed from office via the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, or be impeached continued to swirl Friday, as did expressions of concern about the president’s state of mind and access to the US nuclear command and control system. National security and arms control experts and news outlets filled social media with comments on and explanations of the president’s power to launch nuclear war.
read this then see if you have any questions on presidential nuclear authority. https://t.co/L5DKXqn0pm
— Jon “WEAR A MASK” Wolfsthal (@JBWolfsthal) January 8, 2021
HA HA HA. No. https://t.co/S8BBvmKFAk
— Dr. Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) January 8, 2021
There is no legal mechanism for this. But Biden can change that once he’s in office. He can require that the President have the agreement of another official (preferably the Speaker) in order to authorize a nuclear strike https://t.co/krhvREvRTB
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) January 8, 2021
Can #Trump single-handedly order a #nuclear attack? Of course. Covered it in 2017 @publicintegrity when there were already concerns in Congress comparing him to an “adult daycare” resident. It’s one unfettered authority a president holds. https://t.co/21XdHO2SJq
— Patrick Malone (@pmalonedc) January 8, 2021
We in fact have a mechanism for preventing an unstable president from using his sole authority to order the launch of America’s vast arsenal of nuclear weapons. It’s called the 25th Amendment. This is on civilians to stop, not the military. https://t.co/RACmKIwa8x
— ProfTalmadge (@ProfTalmadge) January 8, 2021
Pelosi’s letter suggested the possibility the House of Representatives would move to impeach Trump a second time next week if Vice President Mike Pence did not begin the 25th Amendment removal process, a move that media reports suggested Pence opposed. Still, it was unclear Friday whether impeachment proceedings against Trump would be instituted, given the short amount of time remaining before Biden takes office.
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