Trump put Milley in an impossible position

This doesn’t mean Milley should be relieved or fired. He made a judgment call in an unprecedented situation, and we should be glad for it. The Constitution of the United States has no provision for the control of planet-destroying weapons while a president is losing his mind and trying to overthrow the government itself. Even the Twenty-Fifth Amendment was meant to spackle the gaps in presidential succession in the case of death or disability. It does not countenance speedily removing the president from office against his will—especially while the vice president and the entire Congress are under armed guard from a violent mob carrying nooses and smearing feces on the walls of the Capitol.

Milley was looking at a civilian leadership in complete disarray, with the executive branch in the hands of a coterie of cronies—including an acting secretary of defense who by his own admission had no idea what was going on most of the time—and a president whose understanding of “the nuclear,” as he called our strategic deterrent, was childlike at best.

At the least, Milley was trying to insert a moment of pause into any possible escalation to disaster, and for that we should be grateful. His order was insurance against the chance that a raving Donald Trump, some hapless lieutenant commander, and the Acting-Temporary-Undersecretary for Advanced Defense Widgets could get together in the basement of the White House to transmit the codes to hell to the U.S. Strategic Command without anyone else knowing about it.