Pelosi consults top general about restraining Trump

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken to the top US military commander about taking precautions to ensure that Donald Trump cannot initiate hostilities or order a nuclear strike in his remaining 12 days in office.

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Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. Photo: AFP / AP

Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers that she spoke to Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about what measures are available to rein in the Republican president. Trump, angry about his election loss, incited supporters in the days before an invasion of the US Capitol on Wednesday (US time).

“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,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues.

While Pelosi’s letter highlights the concern among lawmakers about what Trump may try to do during his remaining time in office, there are questions about what Milley or anyone could actually do to stop a president from using nuclear weapons.

“There is no legal way to do this. The president has sole, unfettered authority to order the use of nuclear weapons with no ‘second vote’ required,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California.

Milley’s office said that Pelosi had initiated the call and Milley “answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority”.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 1, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Army General Mark Milley Photo: AFP

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that any use of nuclear weapons is a highly deliberative process.

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden takes office on 20 January. Trump said earlier today he would not attend the inauguration, breaking with long-standing tradition in American presidential transitions.

Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, also said she had not heard back from Vice President Mike Pence about whether he would agree to top Democrats’ request that he invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office “for his incitement of insurrection and the danger he still poses”.

She said “we still hope to hear from him as soon as possible with a positive answer.”

Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate have said that if Pence does not agree to the request, Democrats were prepared to impeach Trump a second time.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives plan to introduce new articles of impeachment against Trump on Monday, calling for his removal from office, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The sources said the articles, which are formal charges of misconduct, were crafted by Democratic Representatives David Cicilline, Ted Lieu and Jamie Raskin.

A copy of the measure circulating among members of Congress charges Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” in a bid to overturn his loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

The articles also cite Trump’s hour-long phone call last week with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he asked him to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory in that state.

Biden promises accountability

This image released by the US Capitol Police (USCP) on January 8, 2021, shows USCP Officer Brian D. Sicknick. - Sicknick died from injuries sustained during the storming of the Capitol . Sicknick was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher

Brian Sicknick Photo: AFP

US President-elect Joe Biden has expressed sympathy to the family of the US Capitol police officer killed in Wednesday’s invasion of Congress by pro-Trump supporters, and said those responsible would be held accountable.

“The people responsible should be held accountable, and they will be,” Biden told reporters.

Federal prosecutors are opening a murder investigation after the officer, Brian Sicknick, died on Thursday in the aftermath of Wednesday’s events, CNN reported on Friday, citing a law enforcement official.

– Reuters


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