“The situation of this unattached president could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything we can to protect the American people from their unbalanced attack on our country and our democracy,” she added.
Milley’s spokesman, Col. Dave Butler, said Pelosi had initiated the conversation with the president. “He answered her questions about the nuclear command process.”
Congressional Democrats and some Republicans are seeking Trump’s removal – either through the actions of Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet, or through the Congressional impeachment process ̵
The riot led to the evacuation of lawmakers, delayed the official confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, and resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol police officer.
Removing Trump with the 25th Amendment is a long chance, with two cabinet secretaries resigning after the Capitol violence. Instead, Democrats are ready to act to impeach Trump next week.
In her letter, Pelosi said she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had contacted Pence without reply, adding that “they still hope to hear from him as soon as possible with a positive response as to whether he and the cabinet will respect their oath to the Constitution. “
“If the president does not leave office immediately and willingly, Congress will continue our actions,” she added.
Numerous Democratic lawmakers are pushing for legislation to limit the president’s power to go on a nuclear strike – including requiring additional officials to sign the launch and make US policy “no first nuclear weapons used.”
Some also warned of Trump’s politicization of the military and expressed concerns ahead of the November election that the commander-in-chief could use military means, both domestically and internationally, inappropriately to influence the election or stay in power.
The process of launching a nuclear strike does not take place through the typical military decision-making chain, which requires the participation and approval of many officials. Instead, the process is set to move as fast as possible so that military officers can make a decision that only the president can make.
The infrastructure for launching an attack is carried in a heavy black briefcase called “football”, which a military aide carries wherever the president goes. Inside is communication equipment that allows the president to talk to the National Military Command Center, a sealed package with a sheet of paper inside called a “biscuit” that contains a verification code certifying that the order came from the president, and a basic brochure with pre-set military answers. The simplicity of the setup is designed for the president to make a decision in minutes.
The start-up processes are designed to run so fast that there is no re-guessing or reversal of an attack once the decision has been sent.
But it’s also not as easy as it sounds for a president to just start a strike all of a sudden.
General John Hayton, now the number 2 military officer in the country, told an audience at a military forum in 2017 that leaders would not obey an illegal order.
“And if it’s illegal, guess what will happen?” I will say: ‘Mr President, this is illegal. And guess what he will do? He will say, “What would be legal?” And we will come up with options, from a combination of options to respond to any situation, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated. “
Retired General Colin Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, warned on Friday not to include nuclear codes in the discussion on Trump and his last days, insisting that fears of a madman left on his own devices with firing codes were simply not the way to go. on which he works.
“We’ve seen him do some crazy things, but let’s not drag things like nuclear codes,” he told NBC’s Today. “I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and I can tell you for sure that if something like this ever happens and someone suddenly says, ‘We want to use nuclear weapons,’ they will never get close to it.”
Others with direct knowledge of nuclear operations also said that Pelosi was sending the wrong message.
“This makes America look weak, and the weakness is provocative,” said a Defense Department official who advised nuclear commanders. “I don’t think what Pelosi is doing is helpful.”
But the official also agreed that he was signaling a lack of understanding of how nuclear arsenals are managed and under what conditions they could or could be used in the absence of a direct threat to the United States from abroad.
“The way the nuclear arsenal is used is not so easy for a crazy president to go and fire nuclear weapons,” the official said. That’s a stupid thing to say.
However, such concerns are not new. “They said the same thing about Ronald Reagan, if you go back and look at the New York Times during the 1980 campaign,” the official said. “They said almost the same things.”
Lara Seligman and Brian Bender contributed to this report.