During President Donald Trump’s visit to China last November, a brief skirmish reportedly broke out after a Chinese security official placed his hands on White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
The skirmish occurred during the president’s tour of Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, according to an exclusive report broken over the weekend by the news site Axios.
As the president and his team entered the hall, Chinese security officials reportedly blocked the U.S. military aide who carries the so-called nuclear football.
An unnamed U.S. official then “hurried” into the hall to inform Kelly of what had occurred. The chief of staff rushed back to the entrance to urge everyone to keep walking.
“We’re moving in,” he reportedly said.
That’s when this happened, according to Axios: “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.“
And that was it, apparently. The skirmish was over and those who saw it were reportedly asked to remain quiet and tell nobody.
The head of the Chinese security detail that stopped the aide with the nuclear football and later accosted Kelly “apologized to the Americans afterwards for the misunderstanding,” according to Axios.
It remains unclear how exactly Axios learned of this skirmish, though contributor Jonathan Swan mentioned speaking with “five sources familiar with the events.” Note that all five sources are apparently anonymous.
“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,” Swan’s report concluded.
Still, the incident remains mysterious.
Swan noted that Trump’s team “followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing,” meaning the security detail should have been fully aware that the president and his aides/officials were to be allowed full entry into the Great Hall of the People.
Not everyone is buying the story, though. Writing for RedState, a commentator by the alias of “Streiff” had doubts about whether the incident actually took place.
“I’ll tell you why I have a lot of doubts,” he wrote:
“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.
“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.”
However, if it did happen, Streiff wrote, something malevlolent might have been at work:
“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 Koran guards on the American/ROK guard force with no apparent motive.”
Anything is possible, I guess.
Either way, let this be a lesson to everyone:
NEVER put your hands on Gen. John Kelly, because if you do, you will pay a price for it.
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