March 20, 2018

Sen. Murphy: Trump So 'Unstable' He May Order Nuclear Strike

15 November 2017, 02:19 | Opal Carroll

Mikhail Svetlov Getty Images

Mikhail Svetlov  Getty Images

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.

"We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with USA national security interests", Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from CT.

Mr Kehler said if he were uncertain about its legality, he would consult with his own advisers.

"The military does not blindly follow orders", he told the committee.

Only the president can give the order to pull the nuclear trigger. He said would immediately have questioned such an order, but publicly questioned the inherent risks.

What would happen next also remained unclear.

"Then what happens?" he was asked.

"I don't know", Kehler replied, to nervous laughter in the committee chambers. He threatened Kim in August with "fire and fury like the world has never seen", a likely reference to nuclear war.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the president's powers to launch a nuclear strike, and chairman Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) said it was not specifically about Trump. The committee's Republican chairman, Bob Corker, accused President Trump last month of setting the United States "on a path to World War III".

And that, said Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from MA.

He quickly followed that up by saying "I fear that in the age of Trump, the cooler heads and strategic doctrine that we once relied upon as our last best hope against the unthinkable seem less reassuring than ever".

The president and his top officials have said repeatedly that North Korea would not be allowed to threaten the United States with nuclear weapons, but as Pyongyang has persisted with its nuclear and missile tests, it has been unclear what the administration would do to stop the regime. A North Korean official dubbed a tweet by Mr Trump a "declaration of war" after the president said that North Korean officials "won't be around much longer" if they continue with their escalating rhetoric over Pyongyang's nuclear program. "I don't think the assurances I've received today will be satisfying to the American people".

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Some of the witnesses agreed.

There are two situations in which the president decides to use nuclear force, Feaver said: When the president wakes up the military and when the military wakes up the president. "There would be a large group of advisers and legal advisers weighing in on this".

One issue under debate was the concept of imminent threat, when the president believes a country poses a sufficient immediate danger for the USA to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

No Trump administration officials are testifying before the hearing, which is examining the nuclear command and control structure that has served all U.S. presidents.

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.

"Even Gen. Kelly, the president's chief of staff, can't control the president's Twitter tantrums", Markey said. By the time Corker emerged from the hearing - the first to address the president's nuclear authority in over four decades - he was at a loss for what to do next. Gerald Ford was president.

"It should be the congressional prerogative to declare nuclear war", added Markey, who has written a bill to ban the president from being able to launch a first nuclear strike against North Korea without the authorization of Congress. "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".

If the USA wanted to retaliate before its weapons or command and control system were attacked, "the president would have less than 10 minutes to absorb the information, review his options, and make his decision", according to a 2016 Congressional Research Service report by nuclear arms expert Amy Woolf.

The comments struck at the heart of the reason the hearing took place.

"As a result", Markey said, "many Americans share my fear that the president's bombastic words could turn into nuclear reality".

"One of the things that voters think about" in United States presidential elections, Rubio said, "is whether or not they want to trust him with this capability".

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