House Dems urge Biden to give up sole control of nuclear codes as mental status concerns brew

Dozens of House Democrats have sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to relinquish sole control over the country’s nuclear weapons codes, citing “real risks” that could lead to an accidental or rogue launch.

“…Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” said the letter, which was led by California Rep. Jimmy Panetta. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.”

“While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter further states. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”

The Democratic lawmakers listed several alternatives including a committee-style approach that would involve, perhaps, the vice president and the Speaker of the House, both of whom are in line for presidential succession and “neither of whom can be removed by the president if they disagree — to concur with a launch order.”

In a Monday tweet, Panetta wrote he is “calling on” the president “to install checks [and] balances in our nuclear command-and-control structure.”

In the atomic age, wherever U.S. presidents are, close by is the so-called “nuclear football” — an oversized briefcase that contains launch codes and other equipment necessary to launch a nuclear strike.

In recent years, however, Democrats increasingly expressed concerns with then-President Donald Trump having sole authority to launch strikes, though his administration was marked with U.S. troop reductions worldwide and brokering peace deals between historic enemies.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in January she spoke with Joint Chiefs Chairman and U.S. Army Gen. 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.”

As for the Democratic letter, it comes as concerns increase over President Joe Biden’s mental state. 

During a segment on his Newsmax TV show Tuesday, host Grant Stinchfield weighed in after featuring a recent Sky News segment in which Australian commentator Cory Bernardi, a former politician, said it appears as though Biden’s mental status is declining. 

“It is clear U.S. President Joe Biden is not up to the task he has been sworn in to do,” Bernardi said. “Never before has the leader of the Free World been so cognitively compromised,”

“We had a doctor on the program from Mount Sinai Medical Hospital who made the diagnosis watching 30 hours of video that Joe Biden has early to mid-stage dementia,” Stinchfield added. “Now that he’s president I believe Joe Biden’s mental state is a clear national security threat. Now other parts of the world are apparently noticing too.”

Also, Fox News’ Sean Hannity made similar observations on his program Tuesday, calling Biden’s mental status “scary” and adding that the president “can’t form a sentence between naps.”

The president’s mental state was a topic of discussion in mostly conservative media circles for months ahead of the 2020 elections, while left-leaning outlets mostly avoided the subject.

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Jon Dougherty

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