US and China reportedly scuffled over nuclear 'football' during Trump's Beijing visit

  • A U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear "football" — a briefcase with contents for the president to authorize a nuclear strike — was blocked by Chinese security officials at Beijing's Great Hall of the People in November 2017, Axios reported.
  • The aide was with President Donald Trump, who was visiting China as a part of a tour around Asia.
  • The situation then got physical between U.S. and Chinese officials, according to the report.
The military aide carrying the nuclear football (second from left) with U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.
Thomas Peter - Pool/Getty Images
The military aide carrying the nuclear football (second from left) with U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Things got physical between U.S. and Chinese officials over the nuclear "football" during President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing last year, Axios reported Sunday.

A military aide carrying the "football" — a briefcase with contents for the president to authorize a nuclear strike — was blocked by Chinese security officials at Beijing's Great Hall of the People in November 2017, according to the report, which cited five sources "familiar with the events."

The briefcase is supposed to be close to the president at all times. Chief of Staff John Kelly, after hearing about the incident, rushed over and told U.S. officials to keep walking, Axios said. That resulted in a commotion between the Americans and the Chinese.

"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," according to the report.

The news outlet reported the scuffle was over "in a flash" and the Chinese never touched the briefcase. The chief of the Beijing security detail apologized, Axios said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of normal business hours.

For more on the skirmish, see the full story from Axios.