- GLOBAL SECURITY - Jan 8, 2021 -
Katherine Gypson -
Amid growing concerns about what U.S. President Donald Trump might do during his last days in office, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealed Friday that she has asked a top Pentagon general what measures are in place to prevent the president from launching a nuclear weapons attack.
The possibility, while seemingly remote, may be a consideration in a drive by Pelosi and some other national leaders to remove Trump from office even before his term in office ends on January 20.
"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," Pelosi wrote in a letter to her Democratic Party colleagues in the House of Representatives.
"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," she said.
Asked to confirm the call had taken place, a spokesman for Milley told VOA, "He answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear code authority."
The spokesman did not elaborate on what was said during the call.
Later Friday, however, NBC reported that Pelosi had told her fellow Democrats that she had been assured there are safeguards in place that would prevent Trump from unilaterally attempting to order a nuclear strike.
The president has sole authority to order the launch of a nuclear weapon and does not require the approval of congress or his military advisers. But if a military commander were to determine, on advice of his lawyers, that such an order was illegal, then the order could be refused.
Past and present Pentagon leaders have also said they would not obey an illegal order from the president.
Pelosi and her colleagues are also anxious to see the president held accountable for his role in inciting the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol earlier this week, delaying the process of certifying the election of President-elect Joe Biden and leading to the deaths of five people including a Capitol Police officer.
If Congress impeaches Trump â€” for the second time â€” and if he is convicted by the Republican-led Senate, he would be prevented from ever again holding federal office.