House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with the nation’s top military officer on Friday about precautions in place to prevent President Donald Trump from ordering a nuclear strike or conducting other military hostilities as Democrats seek his removal from office.
The stunning revelation came in a letter from the speaker to House Democrats outlining next steps following a violent breach of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday by Trump supporters. Pelosi said she spoke to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley about guardrails in place that could prevent "an unstable president" from wielding the military or the country’s nuclear arsenal.
"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 said in the letter.
"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 added.
Milley’s office did not immediately comment.
Congressional Democrats, and some Republicans, are seeking Trump’s removal from office — either through action by Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet or by the congressional impeachment process — after the commander in chief incited his supporters to breach the U.S. Capitol.
The riot led to lawmakers being evacuated, delayed the official certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump and resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer.
Trump’s removal by the 25th Amendment is a long shot, with two Cabinet secretaries tendering their resignations following the violence at the Capitol. Democrats are instead readying to act to impeach Trump next week.
In her letter, Pelosi said she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had reached out to Pence with no response, adding that they "still hope to hear from him as soon as possible with a positive answer as to whether he and the Cabinet will honor their oath to the Constitution."
"If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action," she added.
Numerous progressive lawmakers have pushed for legislation that would limit the president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike — including by requiring additional officials to sign off on a launch and making the "no first use of nuclear weapons" an official U.S. policy.
Some Democrats have also warned of Trump’s politicization of the military and expressed concerns ahead of the November election that the commander in chief could use the military, either domestically or internationally, in an improper manner with an eye to influencing the election or staying in power.
Lara Seligman contributed to this report.
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