Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee there were fears the president was so unstable and volatile he might order a nuclear-weapons strike. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a frequent critic of President Donald Trump's foreign policy approach and rhetoric.
In the event of an ongoing or imminent nuclear attack, senators and expert witnesses agreed that the president had full authority to defend the nation in accordance with the US Constitution. "Once that order is given and verified, there is no way to revoke it". "I think they can still realize that Donald Trump can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account without the check and balance of the United States Congress".
Mr Corker, the Tennessee senator who chairs the committee, last month engaged in a Twitter spat with Mr Trump, likening the White House to "an adult day care center".
Trump has countered by calling Corker a "lightweight" who couldn't get re-elected if he ran again in 2018. 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". "A presidential order to employ USA nuclear weapons must be legal".
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Other Democrat colleagues of Mr Cardin said that Mr Trump is so "volatile" it ensured such a move could not be discounted. "That is frightening. And as the chairman pointed out, based on my understanding of the nuclear command and control protocols, there are no checks - no checks - on the president's authority".
Trump has used both confrontational and conciliatory language on North Korea in recent days.
Under certain circumstances, he explained: "I would have said, 'I'm not ready to proceed'". And during his recently concluded visit to Asia, Trump called Kim "short and fat" after the young dictator reportedly called him old.
Republican members on the committee said they anxious that adversaries would see and read about the committee hearing and infer that Trump was losing support in his role as commander in chief, making them more likely to attack the United States or its allies.
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"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.
"I do not see a legislative solution today", Corker told reporters. "It's not the only tool in the toolkit to try to address something like that", Mattis said.
"In the past" Feaver said, "Congress has played a vital role in pushing the Executive Branch to strengthen the nuclear command and control system, and the time may be ripe for another close look". "I think that we have to keep trust, keep faith in the system that we have that has proven effective now for decades". "Let's just recognize the exceptional nature of this moment".
"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", Democrat Chris Murphy told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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