WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she has spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about preventing an "unhinged" President Donald Trump from ordering military actions including a possible nuclear strike in his final days and hours at the White House.
The president has sole authority in the U.S. government to order the launch of a nuclear weapon. But a military commander could refuse the order if it were determined to be illegal. Trump has been making no such threats.
Pelosi said the situation of “this unhinged president could not be more dangerous.”
Pelosi was meeting with the House Democratic caucus Friday to consider impeachment proceedings against the president as soon as next week after the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob that shocked the nation and the world.
Pelosi said in a statement to colleagues that she spoke with Gen. Mark Milley "to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes" for nuclear war. She said Milley assured her longstanding safeguards are in place.
The text of Pelosi's letter is below:
Dear Democratic Colleague,
It is a spirit of pride and with great solemnity that I write to you about the events of this past week.
Thank You to Members Defending Democracy: On Wednesday evening, following an horrific assault on our Democracy, our Democratic Caucus showed to the country and to the world that we would not be diverted from our duty to validate the election of President-elect Joe Biden. Despite the desecration of the temple of our democracy, the House upheld its responsibility to the Constitution and to the American people. My deepest gratitude goes to our scholars -- Reps. Raskin, Lofgren, Schiff, and Neguse -- and to the delegations of Arizona and Pennsylvania facing objections who made the case for respecting the will of the American people.
Capitol Police: It is with great sadness that I also write to share the news that a twelve-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police, Officer Brian Sicknick, died after defending the Capitol complex and protecting all who serve and work here. The perpetrators of Officer Sicknick's death must be brought to justice. Five people have now died because of the act of insurrection. This is a stain on our nation's history.
While we are appreciative of the bravery of the Capitol Police, we are disappointed in the lack of leadership. For that reason I called upon the Chief of the Capitol Police to resign, and he has. I have also accepted the resignation of the House Sergeant-at-Arms. Chair Lofgren will discuss on our noon Caucus call how we will move forward with responding to the failures that allowed this tragedy to happen.
Removing the President From Office: As you know, there is growing momentum around the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would allow the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the President for his incitement of insurrection and the danger he still poses. Yesterday, Leader Schumer and I placed a call with Vice President Pence, and we 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 and the American people.
Nearly fifty years ago, after years of enabling their rogue President, Republicans in Congress finally told President Nixon that it was time to go. 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. If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action.
Preventing an Unhinged President From Using the Nuclear Codes: 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. 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.
Resources for Responding to Trauma: The attack on Wednesday had a great traumatic effect on Members and congressional employees. I have asked the Attending Physician to provide to Members with information about access to counseling. You should shortly be receiving a Dear Colleague from the Office of the Attending Physician and the Office of the Employee Assistance.
I am very grateful to Members for your communications regarding what you think should happen. I take your suggestions very seriously as we build consensus in our Caucus as we go forward.
Thank you for your patriotism, your courage and your leadership.
FBI releases photos seeking ID of suspected rioters
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington Field Office is seeking the public's assistance in identifying individuals suspected of making unlawful entry into the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.
Anyone with information regarding these individuals, or anyone who witnessed any unlawful violent actions at the Capitol or near the area, is asked to contact the FBI's Toll-Free Tipline at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) to verbally report tips. You may also submit any information, photos, or videos that could be relevant online at fbi.gov/USCapitol. You may also contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.