Donald Trump waves to well-wishers following dinner with first lady Melania Trump and Barron Trump at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC.
Donald Trump waves to well-wishers following dinner with first lady Melania Trump and Barron Trump at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC. RON SACHS / POOL

Trump 'may act alone on nukes'

HILLARY Clinton has said she fears Donald Trump may try to launch a nuclear strike and that no one would be able to stop him.

The former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate admitted she worried the US President might launch a first strike in a fit of anger and said senior members of Mr Trump's cabinet were plotting to introduce new rules that would prevent him unilaterally ordering an attack.

Speaking at the London Literature Festival, Mrs Clinton said: "There is such potential for miscalculation."

She referenced an advert her team ran during last year's presidential campaign that featured a former military member of staff whose job was to take the order from the White House to launch a nuclear missile, with the veteran warning against giving Mr Trump access to the nuclear codes.

Mrs Clinton said: "A lot of people thought I was probably exaggerating it, but now we are worried and Congress is worried about whether they can take that power away from Trump so that in a moment of pique he doesn't pick up that phone and call whoever is sitting in the control centre today."

"I tried to raise it before and I'm raising it again here. It's why members of Congress on both sides are trying to work out how they can contain (Mr Trump).

"There was a recent bit of reporting which said that (Secretary of State Rex) Tillerson, (National Security Adviser HR) McMaster, (White House Chief of Staff John) Kelly, (Defence Secretary James) Mattis - they're all trying to figure out how they prevent this."

Asked whether she thought Mr Trump might order a nuclear strike, she said: "I'm worried about that now. I had big differences with so many of the other people who have been president during my lifetime, but I never worried about that.

"Republicans and Democrats are scratching their heads trying to figure out how they interpose - maybe they'll say (a nuclear attack) has to be jointly signed off by the secretary of defence and the secretary of state. Some are even saying there should have to be a declaration of war (by Congress)."

Amid polls showing plummeting public support for Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton said she believes Republicans will seek to challenge the billionaire businessman in 2020 in a bid to stop him winning a second term in office.

And she claimed Mr Trump's team are already plotting to oust US senators who have opposed or criticised him.

During an interview with BBC presenter Jim Naughtie in a packed auditorium, Mrs Clinton accused the media of failing to challenge the US President's more outlandish claims.

She said: "The press has to do a better job of calling out the lies. I'm critical because I think at varying important moments, they dropped the ball on coverage and information."

The 69-year-old re-iterated her belief that she would now be US President were it not for the decision of James Comey, then director of the FBI, to announce just 10 days before polling day that he was re-opening an investigation into Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server.

Calling the decision "inexplicable", she said: "I absolutely think I would have won [had Mr Comey not intervened]. It stopped my momentum and critically it stopped my momentum with white women voters."