Photo, above: The president and first lady arrive at the Great Hall of the People. Photo: THOMAS PETER/AFP/Getty Images

Bizzare!

This entire episode leads me to believe that there is a serious hole in our nuclear capability. Surely there is a redundant system in place that provides another US official with the authority and codes to launch nuclear weapons in the event the President is unable to.

On Thursday Nov. 9, when President Trump and his team visited Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football, according to Axios.

I’ve spoken to five sources familiar with the events. Here’s what happened, as they describe it:

  • When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry. (The official who carries the nuclear football is supposed to stay close to the president at all times, along with a doctor.)
  • A U.S. official hurried into the adjoining room and told Kelly what was happening. Kelly rushed over and told the U.S. officials to keep walking — “We’re moving in,” he said — and the Americans all started moving.
  • Then there was a commotion. A Chinese security official grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man’s hand off of his body. Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.

The whole scuffle was over in a flash, and the U.S. officials told about the incident were asked to keep quiet about it. Trump’s team followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing, according to a person familiar with the trip — but somebody at the Chinese end either didn’t get the memo or decided to mess with the Americans anyway.

I’m told that at no point did the Chinese have the nuclear football in their possession or even touch the briefcase. I’m also told the head of the Chinese security detail apologized to the Americans afterwards for the misunderstanding.