U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for the state dinner with China’s President Xi Jinping and China’s first lady Peng Liyuan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, China, Thursay, Nov. 9, 2017. (Thomas Peter/Pool Photo via AP)


Like so many of the bullsh** unsourced and anonymously sourced stories that have leaked about the Trump administration, this one doesn’t sound all that solid but if it isn’t true it should be.

Back in November, President Trump visited China.

After reviewing the ChiCom honor guard, he went into the Great Hall of the People for more ceremonial stuff. One person in Trump’s entourage is the officer who carries the “nuclear football.” This is the satchel that contains the necessary communications gear to allow the president to respond to a nuclear attack, as well as the authentication codes, and targeting options. That officer is not allowed to be very far from the president.

This comes from Jonathan Swan at 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 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.

Cool story, bro. I’ll tell you why I have a lot of doubts:

A. High-level meetings like this are choreographed in fine detail.
B. Nobody doesn’t get the memo on how to deal with a U.S. president’s security detail and personal staff. (Gratuitous but relevant Hunt for Red October line)

C. In the Chinese government, not getting the memo is not healthy.
D. There is not a breath of this story around the trip.
E. While the Chinese have every motive to not mention it, I can’t imagine that the story would have been secret for more than a few hours given the U.S. press corps present and the way the White House leaked and the tough guy image this portrayed.

If the story is true, this was a calculated power play by the Chinese dreamed up for their own reasons. That is not outside the realm of possibility. If you know anyone who served at the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom, which is located precisely on the Korean DMZ, they can tell you of the sudden assaults by North Korean guards on the American/ROK guard force with no apparent motive.

Like I said, I have my doubts but it is a story I’d like to believe.