Defense Officials Confirm Trump Is Still Commander in Chief, Refuse to Participate in Politics

Written by Martin Walsh

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her colleagues last Friday that the nation’s top military officer has told her there are steps in place that would prevent President Donald Trump from firing nuclear weapons.

Pelosi told her colleagues that she had asked Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about preventing Trump from initiating a nuclear strike.

Pelosi reportedly told Milley she wants to limit the president from responding to international threats during the final days of his term.

Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues she spoke to Milley about “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,” Pelosi wrote.

But according to The New York Times, the Pentagon is remaining neutral in the partisan squabbling and informed Pelosi that they will follow lawful orders from Trump.

A statement from Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for Milley, confirmed to The Times that the call took place.

“Milley answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority,” Butler said.

The newspaper spoke to other Pentagon officials who were reportedly hesitant to get involved in Pelosi’s political match, according to Times reporters David Sanger and Eric Schmitt.

“Mr. Trump, they noted, is still the commander in chief; unless he is removed, the military is bound to follow his lawful orders. While military officials can refuse to carry out orders they view as illegal — or slow the process by sending those orders for careful legal review — they cannot remove the president from the chain of command. That would amount to a military coup, the officials said,” Sanger and Schmitt reported.

“The one issue that has worried officials the most is Iran’s announcement that it has begun enriching uranium to 20 percent purity — near the quality to make a bomb. In December, Mr. Trump asked for military options that might be taken in response to Iran’s escalating production of nuclear fuel, but he was talked out of it by a number of top officials, including General Milley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” the Times also reported.

Pelosi said Trump should be removed from office for “instigating” the “seditious act” at the U.S. Capitol.

“I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment. If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. That is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus, and the American people, by the way.” Pelosi said.

“When you have the 25th … invoked, that would be calling upon the Vice President … to take the lead, and with a majority of the Cabinet, to be able to unseat the president of the United States … a very dangerous person,” she added.

“If the vice president and the cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment,” she said at a news conference. “By inciting sedition like he did yesterday, he must be removed from office.”

She referred to the protestors as “terrorists” and “Trump thugs.”

“The president must be held accountable,” she said. “He must be contained.”