As US President Donald Trump was locked out of his Twitter and Facebook accounts following the violence at the US Capitol, netizens are worried about Trump still holding nuclear codes.
Facebook taking down Trump’s posts, and Twitter stopping retweets of his posts. This is cutting off his oxygen and will turn Trump into a caged, wounded animal. @DeptofDefense MUST take away his access to the nuclear codes.
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) January 6, 2021
— Andy Shallal (@andyshallal) January 7, 2021
The US President is the sole authority to order a nuclear attack. If a President orders a nuclear strike, the Secretary of Defense is constitutionally mandated to carry it out.
Netizens and experts took to social media and voiced their concerns over Trump holding the nuclear codes. Replying to a Twitter user about the safety of nukes, Ankit Panda, a nuclear expert and author of Kim Jong Un and the Bomb said: “Physically, yes. But the same guy who incited today’s seditious insurrection has unilateral launch authority for the next 14 days. And that’s how we designed our system to work.”
Physically, yes. But the same guy who incited today's seditious insurrection has unilateral launch authority for the next 14 days. And that's how we designed our system to work. https://t.co/6XjAfHorW7
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) January 6, 2021
However, Thomas Shugart, a nuclear expert at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C said: “the legality of a strike would assume that the extant situation called for its use. Even if a package had been reviewed for legality, it would be illegal per the LOAC to execute it unprovoked.”
For sure, there are plenty of possible scenarios, but unprovoked is not the same as first use. Let's say you execute a cyber attack that devastates the US economy, (probably killing millions indirectly). Is that a first use? Yes. Disproportionate? Maybe, maybe not.
— Thomas Shugart (@tshugart3) January 7, 2021
Following Trump’s speech on Wednesday afternoon near the White House where he reiterated his rejection of the November 2020 election result, thousands of his supporters breached the Capitol building disrupting, the Congress’ approval of the election result.
Lawmakers were evacuated from the building to safety as the mob clashed with the law enforcement officials in the building. According to media reports, four people died including a woman after security personnel opened fire, and several were injured.
After Democrat candidate Joe Biden clinched the election, Trump has repeatedly claimed election fraud and began a campaign to discredit the vote-counting in different states. However, the President met with multiple legal defeats as courts rejected his claims and ratified the election results in Biden’s favor.
They need to get the nuclear launch codes from #Trump as soon as possible. We are not safe!
— Allen Ellison for US Senate (@AllenLEllison) January 7, 2021
Following these defeats, Trump called on Vice President Mike Pence, a loyalist, to overturn the election results as he was set to preside over the Congress session to ratify electoral voting results. “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump wrote in a tweet.
“The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act,” Trump said. “Our Vice President has several options under the U.S. Constitution. He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification.”
However, Pence’s team told Reuters that he will be “very supportive of the president, but again he’ll stick to the Constitution. It is a ceremonial role. It is opening up envelopes and reading the contents of it.”
Future violations of the Twitter Rules, including our Civic Integrity or Violent Threats policies, will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021
Several lawmakers and media accused Trump of inciting the mob that breached the Capitol and created a ruckus in the building. “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our constitution,” Trump tweeted after leaving the rally. “USA demands the truth!”
Following the incident, Twitter blocked Trump’s account for 12 hours for violating its rules and warned that future violations may result in a permanent suspension of the account. Facebook followed suit and blocked his account for 24 hours citing two of the platform’s policy violations.
To stop a rogue President to initiate such steps, the US government has an alternative of the 25th amendment or impeachment. While the impeachment process takes a longer time, the 25th amendment of the US constitution allows the removal or replacement of the President in case of death or disablement.
JUST IN: “This is not news we deliver lightly,” @margbrennan says as she reports: Trump Cabinet secretaries are discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump. Nothing formal yet presented to VP Pence.
“I’m talking about actual members of the Cabinet,” she says
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) January 7, 2021
The Vice President takes over the charge in case the amendment is triggered. While there are different clauses to the amendment, CBS News has reported that the cabinet is seriously discussing invoking the fourth clause of the 25th Amendment that allows the President to be removed in case he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.