In the wake of reports that the nation's top general assured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday that "steps are in place" to prevent President Donald Trump from launching a nuclear strike on his way out the door, analysts warned the president still poses a grave threat to the U.S.—and the rest of the world—and must be removed from office as quickly as possible to prevent further damage.
"If the threat is so serious that you have to ask one of Trump's own appointees to keep him from firing nuclear missiles, the threat is serious enough to impeach him today and not wait until next week," said Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics.
"The best way for Speaker Pelosi to prevent an unhinged president from using the nuclear codes is to impeach and remove him immediately. What are we waiting for?"
—Evan Weber, Sunrise Movement
Evan Weber, political director of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, echoed that message, tweeting Friday that "the best way for Speaker Pelosi to prevent an unhinged president from using the nuclear codes is to impeach and remove him immediately."
"What are we waiting for?" Weber asked.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter on Friday afternoon, Pelosi said she spoke to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark 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," wrote Pelosi, "and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy."
According to the Associated Press, Pelosi told members of her caucus that Milley "assured her steps are in place to prevent a Trump nuclear launch."
"Impeach anyway," journalist Kelsey Atherton tweeted in response to the AP report, adding that the U.S. must also "formalize steps" to make launching a nuclear weapon more difficult. Under current law, the president has the sole authority to order a nuclear strike.
"While the launch process involves several people, the current legal authority rests solely with the president," Atherton explained. "The military saying 'we won't launch' is a subversion of civilian control of nuclear weapons... It's obviously good that the military doesn't want this president to launch nukes, but it's a bad precedent to rely on military refusal to carry out bad orders when, instead, we can make it harder to issue bad orders."
We should absolutely impeach, remove, and disqualify Trump.
And we should also fight for a future with no nuclear weapons to be this stressed about.
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— Sean Eldridge (@SeanEldridge) January 8, 2021
News of Pelosi's conversation with Milley comes as progressives are criticizing the House Democratic leadership for not moving with sufficient urgency to impeach the president following his incitement of the right-wing mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
As Common Dreams reported Friday, House Democrats don't plan to hold a vote on articles of impeachment until the middle of next week at the earliest—a timeline that doesn't square with the party's warning that every moment Trump remains in power is a grave threat to the people of the U.S. and the world, given his proximity to the nuclear codes.
"Impeach and remove. Today," tweeted progressive organizer Ilya Sheyman. "Waiting until next week is absurd."
Assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) insisted in a CNN interview Friday that Democrats are moving "as fast as possible" to bring the impeachment articles to the floor.
Asst. House Speaker @RepKClark (D-MA): "We can use procedural tools to get articles of impeachment to the floor for a House vote quickly."
Timetable looks like "as early as mid-next-week." pic.twitter.com/kkiiAwlMBj
— The Recount (@therecount) January 8, 2021
In a letter on Thursday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and five other progressive House Democrats demanded that Congress reconvene immediately to begin the process of impeaching Trump and removing him from office.
"The attack on our nation's Capitol yesterday was a result of his incitement, and we cannot go home while he remains in the highest office in our land, threatening our elected officials, our nation's Capitol, and our very democracy," the lawmakers wrote. "The remaining two weeks of his presidency may prove to be detrimental to our nation... We cannot risk his unhinged behavior any longer."