the Capitol riot, military authorities were unaware of the possible risk to Pence’s ‘nuclear football.’
On January 6, military officials overseeing the authorization process to deploy nuclear weapons were unaware that, according to a defense official, then-Vice President Mike Pence’s military assistant carrying the “nuclear football” was theoretically at risk as rioters came near during the violent Capitol revolt.
The vice president is often followed by a “football,” backup, which includes the equipment to execute instructions to initiate a nuclear attack. It must be ready at all times and, in case he becomes incapacitated, is similar to what the president brings.
After seeing a video played at the Senate impeachment trial Wednesday showing Pence, his Secret Service agents and a military officer carrying a briefcase with confidential nuclear launch details running down a flight of stairs inside the Capitol to get to safety, the official said, US Strategic Command became aware of the seriousness of the incident.
“As the rioters reached the top of the stairs, they were within 100 feet of where the vice president was sheltering with his family, and they were just feet away from one of the doors to this chamber,” Del. In the senate trial on Wednesday, Stacey Plaskett, one of the impeachment administrators, explained. The crowd can be heard shouting “Hang Mike Pence” in one video as they stand in an open Capitol doorway.
It is not clear if other elements of the government’s national security structure, such as the National Security Council or top Pentagon officials, were aware of the seriousness of the role of Pence and that of his team.
The military officer was able to keep charge of the ‘football’ backup at all times on January 6, and the President was inside the White House, the official said. Even if the rioters had gotten hold of it, due to the security controls on the device, they could not have used any of the details, the official said.
They didn’t have to deactivate Pence’s device because they never lost control of “football” and then-President Donald Trump was secure. But the incident raises the question of whether the status of “football’s” was properly accounted for at all times.
Due to the sensitivity surrounding nuclear weapons concerns, the Pentagon has declined to comment on the Pence video. Also, the National Security Council refused to comment.
“I would not get into discussion about specific command and control over nuclear strategic forces,”I would not get into discussion about specific command and control over nuclear strategic forces. The inspector general of the Defense Department conducted a study of the activities on January 6, but if “football” is included in that investigation, it is not publicly known.
In the House impeachment managers’ presentation Wednesday, which included never-before-seen Capitol surveillance camera footage, body camera footage from Washington police and police radio dispatches, the video of Pence and the assistant in charge of football was included. To date, the presentation presented the fullest view of how the Capitol had been overwhelmed and the significant danger posed to everyone in the Capitol by the rioters, including the senators now sitting as the jury in the impeachment trial of Trump.
The videos contained footage of the rioters attacking police officers as well as pictures depicting how close the crowd inside the Capitol had come to reach lawmakers. Security video of senators leaving their chamber was shown by the House managers, with Capitol Police officers between them and rioters just steps away.