House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Friday announced in a letter that she had spoken with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to discuss options for preventing “an unstable president” from accessing nuclear codes.
“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 in a letter to colleagues.
Pelosi added that among her discussions with the nation’s top military officer was preventing Trump from “initiating military hostilities,” as well as keeping him from accessing launch codes and potentially ordering a nuclear strike.
The Friday statement comes after Pelosi urged Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members during a news conference Thursday to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office after he incited a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that left five people dead in an effort to overturn the results of the presidential election.
During Thursday’s briefing, Pelosi noted that she was prepared to advance efforts to impeach the President if Pence failed to mobilize for Trump’s immediate removal amid concerns that he poses a threat to national security.
A Capitol police officer died from injuries sustained in efforts to protect the Capitol and lawmakers sheltering in place. The death of Brian Sicknick is a solemn reminder that Trump’s claims that his party champions “law and order” and stands by its law enforcement is little more than a facade.
Shortly after Trump’s loss of a second-term in November, Milley, who once took part in Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square after authorities tear-gassed peaceful protesters, offered a poignant statement that appeared to push back on the President after he also fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“We do not take an oath to a king or a queen, a tyrant or a dictator,” Milley said in November during remarks at an Army museum dedication. “We do not take an oath to an individual.”
Read Pelosi’s full letter below:
Dear Democratic Colleague,
It is a spirit of pride and with great solemnity that I write to you about the events of this past week.
- Thank You to Members Defending Democracy: On Wednesday evening, following an horrific assault on our Democracy, our Democratic Caucus showed to the country and to the world that we would not be diverted from our duty to validate the election of President-elect Joe Biden. Despite the desecration of the temple of our democracy, the House upheld its responsibility to the Constitution and to the American people. My deepest gratitude goes to our scholars – Reps. Raskin, Lofgren, Schiff, and Neguse – and to the delegations of Arizona and Pennsylvania facing objections who made the case for respecting the will of the American people.
- Capitol Police: It is with great sadness that I also write to share the news that a twelve-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police, Officer Brian Sicknick, died after defending the Capitol complex and protecting all who serve and work here. The perpetrators of Officer Sicknick’s death must be brought to justice. Five people have now died because of the act of insurrection. This is a stain on our nation’s history.
While we are appreciative of the bravery of the Capitol Police, we are disappointed in the lack of leadership. For that reason I called upon the Chief of the Capitol Police to resign, and he has. I have also accepted the resignation of the House Sergeant-at-Arms. Chair Lofgren will discuss on our noon Caucus call how we will move forward with responding to the failures that allowed this tragedy to happen.
- Removing the President From Office: As you know, there is growing momentum around the invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would allow the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the President for his incitement of insurrection and the danger he still poses. Yesterday, Leader Schumer and I placed a call with Vice President Pence, and we still hope to hear from him as soon as possible with a positive answer as to whether he and the Cabinet will honor their oath to the Constitution and the American people.
Nearly fifty years ago, after years of enabling their rogue President, Republicans in Congress finally told President Nixon that it was time to go. Today, following the President’s dangerous and seditious acts, Republicans in Congress need to follow that example and call on Trump to depart his office – immediately. If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action.
- Preventing an Unhinged President From Using the Nuclear Codes: This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss 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.
- Resources for Responding to Trauma: The attack on Wednesday had a great traumatic effect on Members and congressional employees. I have asked the Attending Physician to provide to Members with information about access to counseling. You should shortly be receiving a Dear Colleague from the Office of the Attending Physician and the Office of the Employee Assistance.
I am very grateful to Members for your communications regarding what you think should happen. I take your suggestions very seriously as we build consensus in our Caucus as we go forward.
Thank you for your patriotism, your courage and your leadership.