Seeking guidance on “available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike,” Pelosi consulted with Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, following the riot at the Capitol that left five people dead.
“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,” the California Democrat wrote in a letter to colleagues on Friday.
House Democrats have scheduled a conference call for Friday afternoon regarding the end of the Trump administration, with an agenda that reportedly includes a proposed (and unprecedented) second impeachment for the outgoing president. Pelosi had previously suggested the House would only move for impeachment if Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials opted not to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Speaking alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Pelosi accused Trump of “incit[ing] an armed insurrection against America” on Wednesday. The president had addressed a horde of supporters hoping to disrupt the tallying of Electoral College votes inside the Capitol, vowing not to concede because of alleged election fraud.
Trump is due to leave office on January 20, less than two weeks away, but his opponents in the House are eager to pry him out before then. However, exercising the 25th Amendment would require the cooperation of Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the president’s cabinet. While Pence acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory on Wednesday, he did not express interest in removing Trump from office ahead of his term’s completion.
The amendment has never been used before and requires the vice president plus “principal officers of the executive departments” to verify the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Pelosi and the Democrats put forth legislation in October to further empower Congress to initiate 25th Amendment proceedings, but the law did not pass.
While House Democrats appear to be concerned about Trump unleashing his presidential superpower in the form of a nuclear strike, the president has made no comment regarding nukes, and it’s not clear where Pelosi got the idea that Trump would throw a nuclear temper tantrum ahead of his departure.
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