The Wall Street Journal: Senate committee challenges president’s authority to order nuclear strikes

WASHINGTON — U.S. senators on Tuesday took a rare look at the decades-old presidential authority to launch a nuclear strike, posing questions at a hearing about the process President Donald Trump would follow if he were to order such an attack.

Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee committee chairman and a critic of Trump, didn’t explicitly criticize the president throughout the two-hour session, and many of the lawmakers present focused their questions on possible scenarios and the legal authorities involved in launching nuclear strikes.

But after an hour of testimony with little overt reference to Trump, Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), said Trump’s presidency is what has prompted a renewed focus on the presidential authorities. Tuesday’s hearing was the first time lawmakers took up the issue since 1976, Corker has said.

“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 U.S. national security interests,” Murphy said. “So let’s just recognize the exceptional nature of this moment and the discussion that we’re having today.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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