Top White House Staffers Are Reportedly Mulling a Plan to Stop Trump if He 'Lunged for the Nuclear Football'

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly have hatched a plan in the event President Trump attempts to start World War III by launching a nuclear weapon: Tackle him. No, really.

On Tuesday night, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman appeared on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes to discuss Donald Trump, of all people! Their discussion on whether the White House had indeed become an adult day care center took an eyebrow-raising turn when Sherman shared an anecdote he heard from an unnamed “prominent” Republican source. Behold:

I just want to put into context the conversation with a very prominent Republican today, who literally was saying that they imagine Gen. Kelly and Secretary Mattis have had conversations that if Trump lunged for the nuclear football, what would they do? Would they tackle him? I mean literally, physically restrain him from putting the country at perilous risk. And that is the kind of situation we’re in.


Hayes interjected to ask if that was a conversation Sherman had with his source “musing about what they would do” if Trump tried to launch a nuclear weapon. Sherman clarified:

[The senior Republican] knows...these are the conversations they have very good authority are taking place inside the White House.


While, of course, it’s important to note that Sherman’s account is several ears down the line of a very high stakes game of telephone, the gist of Mattis and Kelly’s reported plotting doesn’t feel all that far-fetched these days. On Sunday, Senator Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the New York Times that “the vast majority” of Republicans think Trump is putting the country “on the path to World War III.” Last week, Corker told reporters that Mattis, Kelly, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the only three people in the White House who “separate our country of chaos.”

Here’s a video of Sherman’s appearance on MSNBC: