New security camera footage unveiled Wednesday at former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial showed just how close the mob ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 came to nabbing former Vice President Mike Pence and his family. When U.S. Strategic Command saw the footage, CNN reported late Thursday, they realized how close the mob came to Pence's "nuclear football," the backup nuclear launch system a military aide carries near the vice president at all times in case the president is incapacitated.
The military officer, apparently seen fleeing down back stairs with Pence and his family, never lost control of the backup "football," and Trump was safe in the White House during the entire period Pence was being hunted down, a defense official told CNN. That means the Pentagon would not have needed to deactivate Pence's nuclear launch system, even if they had been aware it was in danger. And if the insurrectionists had managed to grab the "football," they would not have been able to bypass the security systems, the official added.
That's not the point, Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association told CNN. "The risk associated with the insurrectionists getting their hands on Pence's football wasn't that they could have initiated an unauthorized launch. But had they stolen the football and acquired its contents, which include pre-planned nuclear strike options, they could have shared the contents with the world," creating "a security breach of almost incomprehensible proportions."
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
The people who broke into the Capitol were clearly not opposed to taking home trophies.
Thankfully, we never have to know what they would have done had they found Pence, or his nuclear strike machine.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.