Published: Mon, February 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

USA and Chinese officials 'scuffled over nuclear football' during Trump Beijing visit

USA and Chinese officials 'scuffled over nuclear football' during Trump Beijing visit

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a United States military aide and a Secret Service agent, who was carrying a nuclear football, engaged in a brawl with some Chinese officials during President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing in November a year ago, Axios reported Sunday.

I've spoken to five sources familiar with the events.

As the US delegation tried to enter into the Great Hall, Chinese security blocked the way of a military aide, who is tasked with carrying the so-called "nuclear football" - a briefcase carrying top-secret contents necessary for the president to authorize a nuclear strike, in case of an extreme emergency. The incident took place November 9, 2017.

The briefcase, which allows the president to launch a nuclear attack or take other strategic measures in case of emergency, is supposed to be near the president at all times. However, he was stopped from entering the Great Hall along with Trump. Kelly, who was already inside, rushed out on being informed and is said to have asked the American officials to keep walking. Kelly pushed away his hand, and a U.S. secret service agent tackled the Chinese official to the ground. That apparently did not go well with the Chinese officials, one of whom reportedly grabbed Kelly. Axios reported that at no point the Chinese got possession of the codes.

This was not the first time the US officials met with hindrance during a visit to China.

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The US officials follow a stringent and secret protocol when it comes to launching a nuclear strike.

But a Chinese security official tried to stop Kelly, even putting his hand on the former Marine general.

According to the sources, a Chinese security official then grabbed Kelly, who pushed the man's hand off of his body.

However, Obama remained calm and composed during the entire scuffle.

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