Despite a campaign by Democrats and the establishment media to delegitimize President Donald Trump after Wednesday’s Capitol incursion, Department of Defense officials intend to avoid outside pressure and continue to recognize him as the commander in chief while avoiding taking part in “a military coup,” according to a report.
It was widely reported Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to limit the president’s access to the country’s so-called nuclear football, which contains launch codes for America’s vast arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Pelosi called Milley to ask him to ignore orders from Trump to use those codes. It’s unclear what initiated the call to Milley. No specific threat from Trump seems to exist, suggesting the call was made for political purposes.
The California Democrat reportedly told Milley she wants to limit the president from responding to international threats during the final days of his term.
“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.
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.
Democrats have also announced they plan to again impeach the president, and there is chatter they might attempt to remove him from office by using the 25th Amendment with less than two weeks left in his term.
Other Democratic lawmakers have also reportedly put pressure on Milley since Wednesday. But for now, the military has reportedly rebuffed them and intends to remain neutral from politics.
Trump remains the only person in government with the capacity to directly order military action and who has the discretion to use the country’s nuclear arsenal. Any attempt to deny him the tools to carry out his duties presiding over national security would be unlawful unless there is an invocation of the 25th Amendment or any orders given to Pentagon officials by him are determined to be themselves unlawful.
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