As impeachment looms, Pelosi urges military to keep Trump from nuclear codes

USA-ELECTION/TRUMP

As Democrats in the House of Representatives on Friday prepared to impeach President Donald Trump again if he does not step down, their leader Nancy Pelosi spoke to the top US general about preventing an "unhinged" Trump from accessing nuclear launch codes in the final days of his term.

The extraordinary developments came two days after Trump exhorted thousands of supporters to march on the US Capitol, prompting a chaotic scene in which crowds breached the building, sent lawmakers into hiding and left a police officer and four others dead in their wake.

"The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous," Pelosi said in a statement, just before a conference call with fellow Democrats to discuss whether to impeach Trump. "If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action."

USA-ELECTION/TRUMP

Pelosi told members she had gotten assurances from Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that there are safeguards in place in the event Trump tried to launch a nuclear weapon, according to a source who was listening to the call.

While US presidents have access to the codes needed to fire nuclear weapons 24 hours a day, no top military or national security official has expressed any concern publicly about Trump's mental state with regard to nuclear weapons.

Milley's office said that Pelosi had initiated the call and that the general "answered her questions regarding the process of nuclear command authority."

Meanwhile, a majority of Democrats appeared poised to initiate impeachment proceedings if Vice President Mike Pence and Trump's Cabinet refuse to invoke the US Constitution's 25th Amendment, which allows them to remove a president who is unable to discharge his duties.

Pence is opposed to such a move, an adviser told Reuters on Thursday.

51 PHOTOS
Pro-Trump protesters swarm US Capitol
See Gallery
Pro-Trump protesters swarm US Capitol
TOPSHOT - A supporter of US President Donald Trump wears a gas mask as he protests after storming the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. President-elect Joe Biden denounced the storming of the US Capitol as an "insurrection" and demanded President Donald Trump go on television to call an end to the violent "siege." (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
US President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on January 6, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware. - Biden on Wednesday denounced the storming of the US Capitol as an "insurrection" and demanded President Donald Trump go on television to call an end to the violent "siege." (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester supporting U.S. President Donald Trump moves to the floor of the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
A Trump supporter waves a flag as he stands on an government vehicle in front of the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: Equipment of media crews damaged during clashes after the US President Donald Trumps supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Trump supporters gather in front of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the US Capitol in Washington, DC,as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by virginie kippelen / AFP) (Photo by VIRGINIE KIPPELEN/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers attempt to push back a pro-Trump mob trying to storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol earlier, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers in riot gear line up as protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Thousands of Donald Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A large group of protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: Security forces take measures at the entrance of US Capitol and respond after the US President Donald Trumps supporters breached the US Capitol security in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol as smoke fills the corridor on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. There are no reports of tear gas being used at the Capitol. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Police officers in riot gear walks towards the U.S. Capitol as protesters enter the building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters stand on scaffolding outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
A man calls on people to raid the building as Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they try to storm the Capital Building in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud in an to overturn the results before Congress finalizes them in a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A man is seen bleeding outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather on the second day of pro-Trump events fueled by President Donald Trump's continued claims of election fraud in an to overturn the results before Congress finalizes them in a joint session of the 117th Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump take over stands set up for the presidential inauguration as they protest at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester sits in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Members of Congress evacuate the House Chamber as protesters attempt to enter during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester sits in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Police hold back supporters of US President Donald Trump as they gather outside the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters gather inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump take over stands set up for the presidential inauguration as they protest at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Thousands of Trump supporters, fueled by his spurious claims of voter fraud, are flooding the nation's capital protesting the expected certification of Joe Biden's White House victory by the US Congress. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A protester is seen inside the US Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol's Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 6: Trump supporters stand on the U.S. Capitol Police armored vehicle as others take over the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as the Congress works to certify the electoral college votes. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence preside over a Joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 Electoral College results on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. - Congress is meeting to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, with scores of Republican lawmakers preparing to challenge the tally in a number of states during what is normally a largely ceremonial event. (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ERIN SCHAFF/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

At least one Senate Republican, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, said he would consider supporting an impeachment proceeding.

Sasse, a frequent Trump critic, told CBS News on Friday he would "definitely consider" any articles of impeachment because the president "disregarded his oath of office."

Even if the House impeaches Trump at such short notice, the decision on whether to remove him would fall to the Republican-controlled Senate, which has acquitted him once before. With Trump's term ending Jan. 20 and the Senate scheduled to be in recess until Jan. 19, the prospects of an actual ouster appear unlikely.

Removing a US president requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not commented on a possible impeachment.

President-elect Joe Biden has blamed Trump for inciting Wednesday's violence but has made clear he will not weigh in on impeachment. Pelosi told members she would speak to Biden on Friday afternoon, the source said.

An uncharacteristically subdued Trump on Thursday evening finally denounced the violence in a video in which he also promised to ensure a smooth transition to Biden's administration.

By Friday morning, however, he had returned to a more familiar and pugilistic tone. On Twitter, he praised his supporters and said, "They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!"

The FBI and prosecutors are investigating, arresting and criminally charging people who took part in violence at the Capitol.

Trump also confirmed he would not attend Biden's inauguration, departing from a time-honored tradition that typically sees the outgoing president escorting his successor to Capitol Hill for the ceremony. The practice is seen as an important part of the peaceful transfer of power.

The House impeached Trump in December 2019 for pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden, but the Senate acquitted him in February 2020. Only two other US presidents have been impeached, and none has ever been impeached twice.

Democrats are set to take narrow control of the Senate after winning two runoff elections in Georgia on Tuesday, but the new senators will not be sworn in until the state certifies its results later this month.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS