House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told colleagues Friday she has requested that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prevent President Trump from accessing the nuclear codes in the final days of his presidency.
Pelosi said in a letter sent to her Democratic colleagues on Friday that she’d spoken to Milley “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”
“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 democracy,” Pelosi added.
According to the Associated Press, Pelosi told Democrats top military officials assured her that steps are in place to prevent a nuclear launch. Milley’s spokesman, Army Col. David Butler, issued the following statement in the wake of Pelosi’s letter being made public: “Speaker Pelosi initiated a call with the chairman. He answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority.”
The Democratic leader has called on Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s Cabinet to exercise the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from power, with concerns growing over what actions he might take before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Pelosi has said that if the 25th Amendment is not exercised, the House of Representatives will impeach Trump, perhaps as early as next week.
“I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment,” Pelosi said at a Thursday news conference. “If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.”
On Wednesday, after weeks of claiming the election was stolen from him and urging his supporters to come to Washington, D.C., for a “wild” time, Trump directed supporters to march on the Capitol as legislators formally counted the Electoral College votes showing Biden’s win. Hundreds of Trump supporters ransacked congressional offices, and the incident led to the deaths of five people, including a police officer. Shortly after the insurrection, the president released a video telling his supporters to leave the Capitol, but also praised them.
“We love you,” Trump said as the mob continued to wreak havoc at the Capitol. “You’re very special.”
On Thursday, Trump released another video in which he pledged a “smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” adding that “serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime.” On Friday, he announced he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration.
A 2016 Bloomberg analysis found that the time between the president deciding to launch an attack and the firing of a nuke could be as short as five minutes.
Sean Naylor contributed reporting to this story.
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