House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday she spoke to the country’s highest-ranking military officer about what can be done to prevent President Donald Trump from having access to nuclear codes.
In a letter to her colleagues in the lower chamber, Pelosi said she spoke to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley—the highest-ranking and most senior military officer in the U.S. Armed Forces and principal military adviser to the president—to “discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”
Pelosi added, “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 request comes just days after supporters of the president stormed the U.S. Capitol in protest of the 2020 election. The riot coincided with a congressional meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden‘s victory. While the violence delayed the proceeding, Vice President Mike Pence announced Biden’s win had been cemented at 3:40 a.m. on Thursday morning.
Trump has been hit with bipartisan criticism over the event as lawmakers argue he incited the violence by repeatedly making false assertions that the election was “stolen” and riddled with voter fraud. Five people died during the riot, including one Capitol Police officer.
Before the violence erupted, Trump addressed the crowd for over an hour and continued to make unsubstantiated allegations about the election. He told his supporters, “We will never give up, we will never concede.”
Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called for Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from office. The amendment would require Pence and a majority of the Cabinet to vote in favor of the president’s ousting.
“The President’s dangerous and seditious acts necessitate his immediate removal from office. We look forward to hearing from the Vice President as soon as possible and to receiving a positive answer as to whether he and the Cabinet will honor their oath to the Constitution and the American people,” the two Democratic leaders said in a statement.
A handful of Republicans have said they’d consider removing Trump. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) was the first to do so on Thursday, releasing a video on Twitter calling for the 25th Amendment to be used. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said Friday that he would “definitely consider” articles of impeachment if they were drawn up in the House of Representatives.
Newsweek has reached out to Pelosi’s office and the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but did not receive a response prior to publication.
Katie Bo Williams, a senior national security correspondent at Defense One, tweeted that Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for Milley, had confirmed the call with Pelosi. Butler told Williams that Pelosi initiated the conversation the chairman “answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority.”
The Associated Press also reported that Pelosi informed Democrats on Friday that a “top military official assured her steps are in place to prevent Trump nuclear launch.”
Update: This story has been updated to include additional reporting from Katie Bo Williams and the Associated Press.