This was the first time either the Senate or House Foreign Relations Committee has addressed the issue of presidential authority to use nuclear weapons since 1976.
"It wouldn't be the president alone persuading a single military officer alone on the other side of the telephone", he said.
Murphy asserted that the reason for the hearing was to discuss what would happen if Trump decided to use nuclear weapons.
Tuesday's hearing reflected the "exceptional nature" of the present context, said Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut. Kehler, who served as the head of Strategic Command from January 2011 to November 2013, said the legal principles of military necessity, distinction and proportionality also apply to decisions about nuclear weapons use.
But Democrats on the committee were happy to invoke Mr Trump, and they noted that the President's escalating rhetorical battle with North Korea - a nuclear-armed nation he and his advisers have repeatedly threatened to annihilate - lent urgency to their questions about how, if at all, presidents are limited in their abilities to fire nuclear missiles.
The administration is trying to soothe concerns by arguing the existing launch process that presidents have operated under for decades has sufficient checks in place that would discourage Trump from taking imprudent action.
"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. Where is it written that a man should be able to press a button and kill a million people?
Despite that dire warning, Mr Corker deliberately did not couch a hearing of the committee he chairs on presidential nuclear powers as a rebuke to Mr Trump, saying "this is not specific to anybody". Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Warren to GOP: Thoughts and prayers not enough after Texas shooting MORE (D-Conn.) said during the hearing. "It's going to be a very robust period of time".
Bruce Blair, a former nuclear missile launch officer and a co-founder of Global Zero, an international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, said that even if a four-star commander of nuclear forces believed a presidential launch order to be illegal, he could not stop it because the order goes to him and to launch crews in the field simultaneously. And by design, not the military officers who would be duty-bound to execute the order.
"I'm interested in understanding whether there is a widely shared view of what this line between a lawful or an unlawful order would be", asked Kaine. And I would concede to you that would be a very difficult process and a very difficult conversation. "As a result, many Americans share my fear that the president's bombastic words could turn into nuclear reality".
The panel ultimately, however, appeared to side against reining in the president's power to exercise nuclear authority. There is a human element to this. The military would treat Trump as they would any other president ordering a nuclear strike. Unlike North Korea, Russia has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the U.S.in minutes.
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