Lawmakers Concerned Trump Is Too 'Unstable' to Handle Nuclear Weapons

Lawmakers Concerned Trump Is Too 'Unstable' to Handle Nuclear Weapons

Senator Chris Murphy made a damning assessment of US President Donald Trump on Tuesday as Congress discussed if the country's leader should have the authority to launch a nuclear attack.

Tuesday's hearing marks the first time since 1976 since either the House or Senate Foreign Relations Committees have examined the president's ability to use nuclear weapons.

Tuesday's hearing reflected the "exceptional nature" of the present context, said Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from CT.

"Let's just recognise the exceptional nature of this moment".

The experts attempted to reassure senators there are processes in place to ensure many seasoned military and legal experts review nuclear orders before they are acted upon.

Only the president can give the order to pull the nuclear trigger. "That is true of nuclear orders as well..."

"The United States military does not blindly follow orders", he said. He added that if he was uncertain of the legality, he would consult his own advisers.

One senator, Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, asked: "Then what happens?"

"I don't know exactly", he responded. He said those comments are fueled by Trump's statements about North Korea, including his remark in August that the US could respond to Pyongyang with "fire and fury like the world has never seen".

"We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" if the U.S. is forced to defend itself, he said in a speech to the United Nations in September.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing was chaired by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said. Ed Markey, a Democrat from MA.

"If we saw they were preparing to do so and it was imminent, I could imagine it".

They also raised concerns that the president's use of Twitter, which often tips into personal insults, could escalate a nuclear conflict.


The president, as commander in chief, is the sole arbiter or whether to use the US nuclear arsenal - an issue that hasn't been debated at the congressional level in more than 40 years.

"I don't think that the assurances that I've received today will be satisfying to the American people", said Markey, a Democrat from MA. Launch and detonation processes require complex authentication networks and proofs of validation meant to prevent accidental or unintentional nuclear detonation.

Some of the witnesses agreed.

Trump has used both confrontational and conciliatory language on North Korea in recent days. Feaver, who has served under two presidential administrations, was formerly on the National Security Council for President George Bush.

"It wouldn't be the president alone persuading a single military officer alone on the other side of the telephone", he said.

Just a few days after Trump's inauguration, Markey and Rep. Ted Lieu introduced a bill to prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war from Congress.

Nuclear launch authority is not the only area of the president's powers over which Congress has sought more influence since Trump took office.

On Tuesday, former officials cautioned that adding Congress to the equation would hamper the U.S. response in a high-stress scenario without a lot of time.

Under certain circumstances, he explained: "I would have said, 'I'm not ready to proceed'".

"I don't think that we should be trusting the generals to be a check on the president, I don't think we should be trusting a set of protocols to be protecting the American people from having a nuclear war launched on their behalf", he said at the close of the hearing. Gerald Ford was president. "You'd either get a new secretary of defense or get a new commander".

As former Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden put it, the current system "is designed for speed and decisiveness, it's not created to debate the decision".

The committee heard testimony from Robert Kehler, former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, who said in his role he would have carried out a presidential order to use nuclear weapons. The basic legal principles of proportionality and necessity apply to the use of nuclear weapons, he said, and "if the order was considered to be illegal, the military is obligated to refuse to follow it".

On Monday, Mattis was directly asked about the hearing and its implications.

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