Donald Trump causes logistical nightmare for handover of nuclear codes by leaving Washington early with the ‘football’ before Joe Biden’s inauguration
- Donald Trump is expected to leave Washington at around 8am on Wednesday
- He will, as president, take the nuclear football with him, carried by an aide
- Normally the football is transferred from one aide to another at noon
- Instead Trump’s football will be deactivated at noon and Biden’s activated
- Trump has reportedly not decided whether to leave a letter for his successor
- He will become the fourth president – and the first since 1869 – not to attend
During a normal inauguration ceremony, the nuclear football, which contains the equipment the president uses to authenticate his orders and launch a nuclear strike, is handed over from one presidential aide to another at the stroke of noon.
As president, he will take the nuclear football with him.
Donald Trump is pictured with an aide behind him carrying the nuclear football
The 45-pound briefcase is always transported along with the president
Stephen Schwartz, a nonresident senior fellow at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, told CNN that the officials involved would have had to come up with an elaborate work-around .
‘There are at least three to four identical ‘footballs’: one follows the president, one follows the vice president, and one traditionally is set aside for the designated survivor at events like inaugurations and State of the Union addresses,’ he said.
‘On 20 January, the extra footballs will be out of town somewhere with their designees, leaving just Mike Pence’s briefcase unless the White House Military Office has prepared (or already has on hand) another backup for Mr Biden.’
The president carries with him at all times a plastic card, known as ‘the biscuit,’ which contains codes that identify the president, who is the only person authorized to launch nuclear weapons.
The Constitution gives Trump control of nuclear attacks until the very second that Biden is sworn in.
Trump is expected to leave Washington DC at around 8am on Wednesday morning
The president will then fly down to Florida, and take up residency at his Mar-a-Lago estate
Trump’s ‘biscuit’ will be deactivated at noon, and Biden’s come in to force.
The aide with the 45-pound briefcase containing the nuclear football will then leave Florida and fly back to Washington DC.
A case belonging to the military aide with the nuclear codes is seen in June 2017
Trump will become the first president since 1869 not to attend his successor’s inauguration.
The Constitution does not require an outgoing president to attend an incoming president’s inauguration, and Trump will be the fourth not to, after John Adams, the second U.S. president; John Quincy Adams, the sixth president; and Andrew Johnson, the 17th president and the first to be impeached. All three were also one-term presidents.
Attending a successor’s inauguration is seen as an important sign of the stability of American democracy.
The Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House and attended Trump’s inauguration
The Trumps will become the first presidential family in over 150 years to skip the inauguration
Woodrow Wilson, still in poor health after a debilitating stroke towards the end of his presidency, accompanied his successor Warren G. Harding on a ride to the U.S. Capitol, even though he was not well enough to attend the outdoor inauguration ceremony.
Trump has also reportedly not made up his mind if he will continue the tradition of writing a letter to leave for his successor in the Oval Office’s Resolute desk.
Trump intends to hold a departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews on the morning of Biden’s inauguration.
The ceremony may include a color guard and a 21-gun salute, plus a red carpet and military band.
Invitations have been sent out for what the Trump team hoped was a rousing send off.
Many, however, have said they will not attend. Guests are now being told they can bring up to five guests for the event.