Donald Trump’s ‘nuclear football’, the briefcase which could trigger doomsday, was loaded onto Marine One alongside the President as he was airlifted to hospital for coronavirus treatment.
The leader of the western world is always followed by the case – officially called the Presidential Emergency Satchel – and a military aide wherever he goes so he can launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
Even Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis was not enough to stop the procedure still being followed, as aides brought the football aboard his helicopter.
The President tweeted an upbeat message from hospital last night where he is being treated with an experimental antibody treatment after reports claimed that he was having ‘trouble breathing’.
Trump’s physician said that he is ‘doing well’ and is undergoing a range of treatments including a polyclonal antibody cocktail made by Regeneron, which is not available to the public.
He is also taking remdesivir, an ebola drug that has already been shown to work against the virus, zinc, vitamin D, famotidine (the generic name for Pepcid AC), melatonin and daily aspirin.
The President tweeted ‘Going welI, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!’ after a CNN report quoted an unnamed presidential adviser claiming that there is ‘reason for concern’ about his condition and that the president was having ‘trouble breathing’ following his positive coronavirus test.
‘This is serious,’ the source told CNN, stating that Trump was ‘very tired, very fatigued’ and claimed that his condition was much more severe than First Lady Melania Trump’s.
They confirmed he is ‘fatigued’, but that his condition is not deteriorating and the public should not be alarmed.
The President, 74, gave a ‘thumbs up’ as he walked from the White House to Marine One to be airlifted to hospital on Friday evening. He waved to reporters on the South Lawn but didn’t speak. He walked on his own with no help.
Before travelling to hospital, Trump had released an 18 second video message to the nation, saying he was being hospitalized but ‘I think I’m doing very well.’
‘We’re going to make sure that things work out,’ he said, adding that the first lady was also ‘doing very well.’
Donald Trump’s ‘nuclear football’, the briefcase which could trigger doomsday, was loaded onto Marine One alongside the President as he was airlifted to hospital for coronavirus treatment
With just a month to go until the election, it also emerged that:
- Eleven people involved in the set-up and planning of Tuesday night’s presidential debate have now tested positive for COVID-19
- Debate moderator Chris Wallace revealed that Donald Trump and his family arrived to the debate too late to take a COVID test
- Wallace also said that debate organisers ‘were not especially happy that the presidential party was not wearing masks’ and ‘there seems to have been a disregard for the risks of this virus.’
- President Donald Trump’s former adviser Kellyanne Conway has tested positive for the coronavirus. The news was first revealed by her teenage daughter Claudia in a TikTok video
- Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump have expressed their well-wishes for their father
- New Jersey contact tracers are struggling to work out the names of all of the people who were present at a fundraiser President attended on Thursday just hours before he was diagnosed with the virus
- The President will work from the Presidential suite at Walter Reed that is specially outfitted with protective devices and communications gear
The nuclear football has joined every US president when they are away from the White House since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, after John Kennedy got nervous over a threat from the small Caribbean country.
It originally got its name from an Eisenhower-era nuclear war plan, code-named ‘Dropkick’, and was created to make sure a nuclear war option was always near the president.
There are three of the bags in total, one is with the president, one with the vice president and the other kept safe in the White House.
The ‘ball carriers’ who look after the cases also carry Beretta pistols and have to shoot anyone who tries to take it.
Little is made public about what is inside the cases and it regularly changes.
But a small antenna that pokes out the top of the case means it likely contains a satellite phone.
There is also a 75-page book that informs the president of his options for a nuclear strike, with another highlighting places he could hide during a nuclear war.
A ten-page folder on contact details for military leaders and broadcasters sits next to a sealed laminated card known as the Biscuit.
This looks like a large credit card and shows letters and numbers, with the president having to memorise where on it sits the Gold Code.
In the event of a nuclear strike, the commander-in-chief of the US armed forces will say the code down the phone to the National Military Command Centre in Washington DC.
Despite the bags being kept at the White House when the president is in residence, it is widely thought he carries a card with the launch code on him all the time.
The leader of the western world, pictured arriving at hospital last night, is always followed by the case – officially called the Presidential Emergency Satchel – and a military aide wherever he goes so he can launch a nuclear strike at short notice
Responsibility for US nuclear power was made an issue in the last presidential election.
President Barack Obama sassed Trump during the election campaign in 2016 as too ‘erratic’ to be entrusted with that power.
‘If somebody can’t handle a Twitter account, they can’t handle the nuclear codes,’ Obama quipped.
Hillary Clinton also warned against Trump having control over the football, saying: ‘His cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons is so deeply troubling.’
Presidents may be some of the most powerful and intelligent people in the world, but it does not mean the card is never lost.
Under Gerald Ford in 1975, the whole football was forgotten about during a summit in France after he left it on the plane.
But his press secretary Ron Nessen said at the time: ‘It wasn’t lost. They just left it on Air Force One.
‘It was one of those things: ‘Didn’t you bring the Football?’ ‘No, I thought you had the Football.”
Soon after, Jimmy Carter fumbled the football.
He was being shown how it worked by his national security adviser Brent Scowscroft in 1977 but had been pranked – with the case containing an empty can of beer and large condom.
Former soldier Carter stripped out the case, removed unnecessary documents and even made the nuclear procedure into basic, easy to follow cartoons.
Yet despite his military discipline, the then president did once leave the codes in a suit, which ended up in a dry cleaners.
The loading of the football comes after two military ‘Doomsday planes’ were seen flying along both US coasts on the morning the Trumps announced they had tested positive for the virus.
One Boeing E-6B Mercury was spotted along the East Coast near Washington, DC while the other was observed on the West Coast above Oregon.
These planes typically carry instructions from the National Command Authority to fleets of ballistic missile submarines.
Social media was abuzz with theories, with many speculating that it was a warning to enemies of America not to attack while Trump is ill and that the US is still strong.
EAST COAST: Early Friday morning, two military planes, E-6B Mercuries, were spotted flying over Washington, DC (pictured) and Oregon
WEST COAST: These planes typically carry instructions from the National Command Authority to fleets of ballistic missile submarines. The planes are pictured over Oregon
The flyovers occurred minutes before President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced they had tested positive for the coronavirus. Pictured: President Donald Trump holds a mask as he speaks during a news conference at the White House, July 21
US Strategic Command told DailyMail.com that the timing was merely a coincidence and that the exercise had been planned in advance.
‘I can confirm these flights were pre-planned missions,’ spokeswoman Karen Singer said in a statement.
‘Any timing to the President’s announcement is purely coincidental.’
The US Navy has 16 Mercury planes, which are grounded at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and are operated by the Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3.
The fleet makes up part of Operation Looking Glass, officinally known as the Airborne Command Post, which helps communicate with American nuclear forces if ground-based command centers are destroyed.
According to the squadron, its mission is to allow the President and the Secretary of Defense to directly liaise with US submarines, bombers, and missile silos if there is a nuclear war.
Speculation abounded as to why the planes were in the air as the news circulated on social media.
In most circumstances, military aircraft turn off their transponders so they will not be tracked.
However, the two E-6B Mercury planes launched with their transponders enabled, which allowed them to be publicly tracked.
Tim Hogan, an American open-source intelligence practitioner, says it is not mere chance they the planes were airborne just minutes before news broke that Trump was infected.
‘There’s an E-6B Mercury off the east coast near DC. I looked because I would expect them to pop up if he tests positive,’ he tweeted.
‘It’s a message to the small group of adversaries with [submarine-launched ballistic missiles] and [intercontinental ballistic missiles].’
Plane spotters believe the flyover was a warning to America’s enemies to not attack and ‘a show of strength’
Most military aircraft fly with their transponders off, but the two planes launched with their transponders on, allowing them to be publicly tracked. Pictured: An E-6B Mercury on taking off from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Some on social media commented that this was merely a tour de force and that the US is ready for nuclear war if an enemy tries to attack.
‘This would be ‘routine’ anytime a nuclear power may appear weak,’ tweeted Travis Allen, a cyber security analyst.
‘It doesn’t mean Armageddon is here it’s just a show of strength
Currently, it does not appear to DailyMail.com that there have been any other ‘shows of strength’ put on by the US military at this time.
An unnamed senior defense official also told Fox News there has been ‘no change to the posture of the US military’ and that ‘the president remains the commander-in-chief.’
Trump and the First Lady tested positive after political adviser Hope Hicks was confirmed to have COVID-19.
The pair will be self-isolating for 14 days, and Trump is reported by The New York Times to have ‘minor symptoms.’