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A 2011 photo of Mullen. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said on ABC'S "This Week" that nuclear war has become "more probable than it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly."

Mullen also said he has concerns about the fact that generals have taken such high-ranking and high-profile roles in the Trump administration, and that he was disappointed that John Kelly has shown he'll be "supportive of the president no matter what."

Full quotes:
  • On Kelly: I mean, certainly what happened very sadly a few weeks ago when he was in a position to both defend the president in terms of what happened with the gold star family and then he ends up — and John ends up politicizing the death of his own son in the wars. It is indicative of the fact that he clearly is very supportive of the president no matter what. And that, that was really a sad moment for me.
  • Does he recognize Flynn these days?: "No, I don't know the Mike Flynn that I have seen since he made a decision to endorse very strongly and publicly President Trump."
  • On nuclear war: "I think it's more probable than I it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly. They're the most dangerous weapons in the world. And certainly if we have someone in North Korea that has a lethal legacy, is very, very unpredictable, and sees this as a way to solidify his future, that he could well not just attain them but potentially use them."
  • On refusing an order: "Well, I think any senior military officer always approaches it from the standpoint of we're not going to follow an illegal order. That said, the president is in a position to give a legal order to use those weapons. And the likelihood that given that order that it would be carried out I think would be pretty high."
  • On North Korea: "I still worry about the peninsula and the potential outcome there. I worry there is more uncertainty than there was a year ago, in principle because of the rhetoric that is there. I know that the Trump administration has addressed this issue from day one, so they're very serious about creating options and have created options. It's still a very difficult place to know what's actually going on."

Go deeper

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

5 hours ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.