AP

On Wednesday morning, White House insiders—all speaking anonymously—told Axios’s Mike Allen about their fears that President Trump might start an actual nuclear war after Trump tweeted about his “Nuclear Button.”

One outside adviser to the West Wing told Allen: “This is the most important issue on the president’s desk. We are in a hair-trigger environment. And this is potentially a shooting war with nuclear risk.” Another administration insider said, “Every war in history was an accident” (this is uhh not true) and that “You just don’t know what’s going to send him over the edge.” Allen’s “be smart” tip helpfully told us that “some West Wing insiders remain convinced that the risk of war is higher than most outsiders realize.”

It seems highly unlikely that these very informed “insiders” actually think the risk of war is still higher than we can possibly know given that the president is tweeting publicly about his large adult nuclear button. But more importantly, these aides’ mealy-mouthed off-the-record chatter reveals the Republicans’ continued inadequacy in dealing with what they consider a real and present nuclear threat. Back in October, when Senator Bob Corker (who faced minimal stakes given his retirement announcement a month earlier) said Trump’s behavior could set the nation “on the path to World War III” he also mentioned “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here.” But, of course, none of that “vast majority” has seemed to take any action at all to combat a threat of epic proportions.

There’s a lot of anonymous handwringing on the part of White House officials and the GOP about almost every crazy thing that Trump has done. But this only serves one purpose—to exonerate these cowards’ own consciences as they further their careers while doing nothing to stop Trump and the existential threat he poses.