Typically, football is placed on the opening stand of or around another military ally as Biden takes his oath of office.
But on Wednesday, the exchange will be slightly different as Trump is currently expected to leave Washington, DC for Florida ahead of Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
Nuclear football will potentially travel with him, experts say, meaning that there will be at least two briefcases in various locations, presenting a unique challenge of ensuring the transfer of authority smoothly.
While this process may run a little differently than in previous years, there are safeguards to ensure the uninterrupted transition of nuclear control from one president to another, regardless of the situation, according to Stephen Schwartz, a non- Senior Senior Partner Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Hand over to ‘football’
Contrary to popular belief, nuclear football does not have a button or code that can automatically launch a nuclear weapon, but instead has the tools and authority that Trump will use to order a strike.
“According to Quartz, there are at least three to four similar ‘footballs’: one follows the president, one follows the vice president, and one traditionally for the named survivor at events such as the inauguration and state of the union addresses Are kept separate, ”according to Skorpz. .
“On May 20, [the extra footballs] Will be out of town with your designees, except bus [Vice President Mike] Pence has a briefcase until the White House military office has prepared another backup for Biden, “he told CNN.
Additionally, the President is required to carry with him a plastic card known as a “biscuit” at all times. The biscuits contain alphanumeric codes that are used to positively identify the president, who holds sole, legal authority to authorize a nuclear launch.
The reason is clearly set out in the constitution, which gives Trump full authority over the US nuclear arsenal, sworn in for a second century on Wednesday at noon.
“Under the 20th Amendment – and absent any call for the 25th Amendment that would make Mike Pence the acting president – Donald Trump is president through January 11 at 11:59:59 p.m. Until that time, They have sole, legal authority to authorize the use of any or all of the US nuclear arsenals, ”Schwartz said.
“If the ally with the football moves with Trump to Air Florida on Air Force One, that ally will remove himself or herself from Trump’s presence that afternoon, returning with a briefcase to Washington, DC,” Schwartz said. said.
Transfer of authority
After that point, Trump will no longer have such authority and the nuclear codes he performs will be automatically deactivated, he said. Meanwhile, Biden will automatically obtain the power to launch a nuclear attack at the same time.
This means that if Trump attempted to order a strike at 12:01 pm on Wednesday afternoon, the order would be considered illegal and military commanders are obliged to refuse to act to launch.
The transition to that authority is ensured by the fact that Trump will use it to authenticate his identity as president, as it will become invalid at that time. Meanwhile, Biden will likely receive his “biscuit” on Wednesday morning, when he and possibly Vice-President Kamala Harris are told about the process of launching a nuclear attack.
But their codes will not be active until noon on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democrats in a letter that she had spoken with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General. Marks met to discuss Trump’s access to the nuclear code amid the president’s call for his removal from office. A mob of violent pro-Trump shook the US Capitol.
Pelosi wrote in a letter, “This morning, I spoke to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Miley, to prevent a volatile president from initiating military hostilities or reaching the launch code and ordering a nuclear attack Discuss the precautions available. ” “The situation of this undefined president could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything possible to protect the American people from his unending attack on our country and our democracy.”
After speaking with Miley, Pelosi told his caucus that he had received assurances that Trump would like to launch a nuclear weapon, according to multiple sources on a nuclear call.
Senior military officials say the president has the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons which he cannot do alone.
If an adversary were to launch a missile into the US, the president would immediately be on a classified communications network, receiving minute-by-minute intelligence and making recommendations for how to proceed.
There are safeguards against illegal attack orders whether it is nuclear or conventional. To be legal, orders must have a legitimate goal, a clear military objective, and the use of proportional forces.
The general had recently commanded strategic weapons and is now at number two in the Pentagon, the military will not obey the illegal orders of any president.
“If it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say, ‘Mr. President, it’s illegal.” And guess what he is going to do? He is going to say, ‘Will it be legal?’ And we’ll come up with options, with a mix of abilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and the way it works. It’s not complicated, “said General John Highton, former commander of the US Strategic Command. 2017.
If a president persists in pursuing illegal orders, a military commander will have no choice but to resign.
CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed to the report.