The Secret Service is crying fake news after a report in Axios which said that one of its agents had tackled a member of Chinese security personnel in a scuffle over the nuclear football during President Donald Trump’s visit there last November.
“FACT CHECK: Reports about Secret Service agents tackling a host nation official during the President’s trip to China in Nov 2017 are false,” the service’s official Twitter account blared out late Monday morning.
FACT CHECK: Reports about Secret Service agents tackling a host nation official during the President’s trip to China in Nov 2017 are false
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) February 19, 2018
It’s unclear whether the agency was denying the entire Axios report or simply the particular nugget about the tackling. The secret service did not immediately respond to a request for clarification from TheWrap.
On Sunday, Axios and Jonathan Swan cited five unnamed sources who told him that the altercation as he described it did indeed occur.
“When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry,” wrote Swan. “Then there was a commotion. A Chinese security official grabbed [John] 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 nuclear football, shorthand for the mobile device which would allow the president to launch a nuclear war, must be near the president at all times. At no time was the device ever in the hands of the Chinese, Swan reported.