A new report indicates that Secret Service agents were forced to get physical with Chinese officials after they blocked President Donald Trump from the so-called “nuclear football” during Trump’s 2017 visit to China.
And the Secret Service has confirmed a confrontation took place, but emphasized that it ended quickly.
On Sunday, Axios reported that a “skirmish” broke out when officials tried to separate the president’s entourage from the “football” — which contains the nuclear launch codes and is always by the president — during a visit to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Nov. 9.
“When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry,” Axios reported. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was immediately informed.
“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.”
Axios reported that the incident was over quickly and that American officials that were informed about what happened were told to stay quiet about it.
The Secret Service at first disputed the story on its Twitter account as “false”:
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
“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 Monday tweet read.
However, according to the South China Morning Post, a clarifying statement from the Secret Service confirmed some details of the Axios account were indeed true.
“An individual, not part of the official delegation, attempted to prevent one of our protectees from entering a room,” the statement read.
“A U.S. Secret Service agent quickly intervened and a short scuffle ensued.”
“The individual complied with the agent’s directions and no further action was necessary. At no time did anyone involved fall to the ground. The event continued without incident.”
The statement also noted that the head of the Chinese security detail apologized for what happened.
The incident comes weeks after new tensions arose between the United States and China over trade and the militarization of the South China Sea.
In late January, CNN reported, the Trump administration announced new tariffs on both solar panels and washing machines that are imported, the majority of which come from China.
Earlier in January, according to Voice of America, China claimed a U.S. warship “violated its sovereignty” by sailing near a shoal China seized from the Philippines six years ago.
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