Perhaps you are of the opinion that the recent uptick in news coverage containing snarky comments concerning the mental deterioration of Donald Trump was inspired by political considerations in an attempt to tarnish his reelection chances.
Or perhaps you merely chalked up the seemingly sudden groundswell of concern over the president’s mental stability to a slow news cycle during the summer months while Congress is on vacation and dismissed the accusations as wildly overblown.
Well, Axios has some news for you that may not only change your mind but may actually inspire you to bombard the White House with phone calls demanding the imposition of the 25th Amendment.
The opening paragraph of the scoop from the political news website says everything you need to know to start scurrying for your phone.
“President Trump has suggested multiple times to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the United States, according to sources who have heard the president’s private remarks and been briefed on a National Security Council memorandum that recorded those comments.”
Yes, you read that right. The President of the United States is suggesting something that, if uttered by your grandfather, would immediately result in the confiscation of his car keys forever.
According to Axios’ insider sources, at one Homeland Security briefing on upcoming hurricanes Trump exclaimed:
“I got it. I got it. Why don’t we nuke them?”
“They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can’t we do that?” the source continued, in a paraphrase of the president’s remarks.
We’ll take a brief pause for a head smack here, although a prolonged banging of it against the wall may be more appropriate in this instance.
Pity the poor soul who was forced to respond to the president as he dropped his nugget of “stable genius” upon them. One can only imagine that they looked down at their feet as they reportedly replied submissively with a “Sir! Yes, Sir! We’ll look into that” or something similar.
Apparently, the positive response wasn’t enough for Trump in this particular meeting as he went on to question how many more hurricanes the U.S. could withstand and repeated his suggestion that the military should intervene while the storms are still in the international waters of the Atlantic.
According to Axios:
“The briefer ‘was knocked back on his heels,’ the source in the room added. ‘You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, “What the f—? What do we do with this?”‘”
Perhaps in a charitable mood, one could attribute Trump’s behavior in that briefing to a momentary lapse of reason, a mere fleeting senior moment, but unfortunately, it was not the only time that the president had made the suggestion.
A 2017 memo from the National Security Council mentions a second similar conversation with a senior administration official that also suggests bombing hurricanes to prevent their landfall on U.S. soil, minus any reference to the use of nuclear weapons this time.
Axios’ source for the NSC memo had a few words of reassurance, however. They said that the memo contained “multiple topics, not just hurricanes. … It wasn’t that somebody was so terrified of the bombing idea that they wrote it down. They just captured the president’s comments.”
The source also set the timeframe for the memo as being early in the second year of Trump’s presidency, before John Bolton took over as national security adviser and thankfully the president’s “Eureka!” concept went nowhere and never entered a formal policy process.
The official response from the White House, when asked about the incidents, was:
“We don’t comment on private discussions that the president may or may not have had with his national security team.”
Privately another senior administration official tried to defend the president.
“His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad,” the official said. “His objective is not bad.”
Of course, they said the same thing about doctors performing frontal lobotomies to cure manic depression, but good intentions didn’t make them any less damaging to the patients or the treatment more effective.
The fact that Trump’s idea of pressing America’s nuclear arsenal into service against Mother Nature isn’t a good idea is pitiful enough but it’s not even an original concept that emerged from his cratered cranium.
The idea was first floated by a scientist during the early days of the nuclear era under President Eisenhower and was dismissed as assinine even then when the military was still engaging in above-ground nuclear tests. On the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, you can find a fact sheet on the “Tropical Cyclone Myths Page” that states:
“Apart from the fact that this might not even alter the storm, this approach neglects the problem that the released radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas and cause devastating environmental problems. Needless to say, this is not a good idea.”
Another reason Trump’s “nuke the hurricanes” idea was a non-starter is this fact found in a 2016 National Geographic article entitled “Nuking Hurricanes: The Surprising History of a Really Bad Idea.”
“Dropping a nuclear bomb into a hurricane would be banned under the terms of the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. So that could stave off any experiments, as long as the U.S. observes the terms of the treaty.”
As North America enters another hurricane season and as Tropical Storm Dorian begins gathering strength and advancing towards the Carribean as we speak, remember that this man has the nuclear codes.
Don’t you think it’s time to do something about that? These revelations suggest that we don’t have time even for the impeachment process to play out. Call your representatives and demand the invocation of the 25th Amendment immediately.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev at Axios.