You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Trump critic Bob Corker says it is time to review president's power to order nuclear attack

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/14/2017 Michael Collins
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., attends a hearing Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Corker, who is locked in a war of words with Trump, said Tuesday the president is degrading the country by “standing up in front of the American people and stating untruths that everybody knows to be untrue.” © J. Scott Applewhite / AP Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., attends a hearing Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Corker, who is locked in a war of words with Trump, said Tuesday the president is degrading the country by “standing up in front of the American people and stating untruths that everybody knows to be untrue.”

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bob Corker, who warned just a month ago that President Trump could be leading the nation toward World War III, said Tuesday the time has come for Congress to review “the realities” of the president’s authority to order a nuclear attack.

“To be clear, I would not support changes that could reduce our deterrence of adversaries or reassurance of allies,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the opening of a hearing on the president’s powers to launch a nuclear strike.

But Corker the Tennessee Republican noted that it has been more than 40 years since a congressional committee has reviewed the president’s unchecked powers over the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

“Making the decision to go to war of any sort is a heavy responsibility for our nation’s elected leaders,” Corker said. “And the decision to use nuclear weapons is the most consequential of all.”

Congress needs to explore “the realities of this system,” he said.

Asked before the hearing if he was worried about Trump having access to the nation’s nuclear arsenal, Corker said, “This (hearing) is not specific to anybody.”

Tuesday’s hearing comes as Trump continues to trade insults with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and amid concerns by some members of Congress about the executive branch’s authority to wage war, particularly with nuclear weapons.

“The committee is clearly looking for remedies to ensure that a demented president could not unilaterally start a nuclear conflagration,” said Bruce Blair, an expert on nuclear command and control and a research scholar at the Program of Science and Global Security at Princeton University.

As commander-in-chief, the president has the sole authority to order a nuclear a strike. While existing procedures call for the president to consult first with military and civilian leaders, the final decision rests with him.

“No one can veto the president’s decision,” said Blair, co-founder of Global Zero, an international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Some members of Congress are pushing for a check on the president’s powers, particularly his ability to order a preemptive strike.

Bills filed in January by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., would prohibit the president from launching a preemptive nuclear strike without a declaration of war by Congress. Neither piece of legislation has gained any traction in the Republican-controlled Congress.

But Trump’s aggressive approach toward North Korea continues to raise fears that his rhetoric might backfire and further inflame tensions. Trump threatened in August to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” in response to reports that the communist regime had developed a warhead that could be mounted on a ballistic missile.

In an interview with The New York Times, Corker, Trump’s most outspoken Republican critic in Congress, accused the president of undermining diplomacy efforts by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and warned that the president’s actions could set the nation on the path to World War III.

More: This is how many missiles North Korea will test before the end of the year

More: North Korea says it may test hydrogen bomb over Pacific Ocean

At Tuesday’s hearing, senators were to hear from C. Robert Kehler, a retired Air Force general who served as commander of the United States Strategic Command; Peter D. Feaver, a political science and public policy professor at Duke University; and Brian McKeon, former acting under secretary for policy at the Defense Department.

The hearing is one in a series the committee is holding on war-making and foreign policy. Last month, the panel examined whether it’s time to update the resolution authorizing the president to order the use of military force in foreign countries.

Corker said afterward that he expects the committee to take up a new military-force authorization resolution “fairly soon.”

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From USA TODAY

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon