With Donald Trump’s blunt warnings to North Korea over its nuclear weapons program still reverberating in the region, a member of his own party is seeking to remove the US President’s authority to launch a nuclear strike.
Senator Bob Corker, a senior Republican and former Trump backer, will convene a hearing to examine the President’s authority to use nuclear weapons.
“A number of members, both on and off our committee ,have raised questions about the authorities of the legislative and executive branches with respect to war making, the use of nuclear weapons, and conducting foreign policy overall,” Mr Corker said in a statement Thursday.
The announcement of the Nov.14 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Mr Corker chairs, is a significant escalation of what was previously a war of words between the two Republicans.
“This continues a series of hearings to examine those issues and will be the first time since 1976 that this committee or our House counterparts have looked specifically at the authority and process for using US nuclear weapons,” Mr Corker said.
“This discussion is long overdue, and we look forward to examining this critical issue,” he added.
On Wednesday, Mr Trump called North Korea a “dark fantasy” and a “military cult” in a speech to South Korea’s parliament before leaving for China.
The President issued a blunt warning to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un saying: “Do not underestimate us. Do not try us.”
He addressed Kim saying “the weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer”, and urged other nations to join forces to stop Pyongyang.
Mr Trump has previously threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if the US is provoked.
Mr Corker, head of the US Foreign Relations Committee, has been a vocal critic of the President since last month announcing he will not re-contest his Tennessee seat.
On October 25 Mr Corker called Mr Trump is “an utterly untruthful president” who is “debasing” the United States.
Mr Corker repeated his earlier comments that the White House was an “adult day-care centre” and that Mr Trump’s unpredictable behaviour was “taking us on a path to combat”.
“For young people to be watching, not only here in our country, but around the world, someone of this mentality as president of the United States is something that is I think debasing to our country,” Mr Corker said.
“You would think he would aspire to be the president of the United States and act like a president of the United States. But that’s just not going to be the case, apparently,” he added.
Mr Trump predictably responded with a lengthy series of insults on Twitter, saying in one that Mr Corker, who’ll retire at the end of his current term, “couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee”.
Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 24, 2017
He also accused Mr Corker of engineering the Iran nuclear deal when, in fact, he opposed it.