During President Trump’s visit to China in November, a security agent for China tried to deny the Secret Service agent carrying the nuclear football from entering the hall with President Trump. Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly went over to intervene when someone laid their hands on Kelly and he batted it away, which led to a Secret Service agent tackling the Chinese security agent. It took a while but the situation was finally sorted out and the Chinese apologized for the “misunderstanding.”
Such incidents are not uncommon when U.S. officials visit China. For example, when former President Barack Obama visited, the Chinese tried to prevent then National Security Adviser Susan Rice from joining the president.
A brief scuffle aside, Trump’s trip to China was generally pleasant. But, while interactions between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were cordial, old feuds and irreconcilable differences between the U.S. and China continue to sour the bilateral relationship. For instance, in recent weeks, the two countries have clashed over the South China Sea and unfair trade, and North Korea still poses a threat to the safety and security of the region.
US law declares that the president must have the nuclear football with him at all times in case he needs to launch missiles at any hostile nation that decides to launch a nuclear attack on the country. That fact was relayed to the Chinese in advance of the trip as is always done when a president visits a foreign country. It is not true as liberals try to point out that the president can launch a nuclear attack on his own using the football. There are other steps including two other keys and codes required to launch any nuclear missiles.
But, if the president is separated from the nuclear football, he could not launch a retaliatory attack.