Military Officials Didn't Know How Close Mob Was to Pence’s Nuclear 'Football’ Until Impeachment Trial: Report

When impeachment managers made their case against Donald Trump this week, they released previously unseen footage from the U.S. Capitol attack, including a video which showed how close the mob came to reaching then-Vice President Mike Pence as he and his family evacuated the Senate.

According to a report from CNN on Thursday, until the video was released as part of Trump's impeachment trial, U.S. Strategic Command — which oversees nuclear operations — was unaware of the potential threat to Pence's backup nuclear "football," which contains information needed to launch a strike in the event the president is incapacitated. 

Video at the trial on Wednesday showed Pence in the Capitol, near the Senate chamber, being moved to safety alongside Secret Service members and a military officer carrying the "football," which is kept in a nondescript briefcase, a defense official told CNN.

"As the rioters reached the top of the stairs, they were within 100 feet of where the vice president was sheltering," House impeachment manager Stacey Plaskett, a delegate representing the U.S. Virgin Islands, said at one point during Wednesday's trial.

As the military officer never lost control of the "football," it never had to be deactivated, the official added to CNN, noting that even if its safety had been compromised, due to the security controls in place, the mob would not have been able to gain access to any information.  

"I would not get into discussion about specific command and control over nuclear strategic forces," the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, told reporters, according to CNN.

Weighing 45 lbs., the briefcase is officially known as the "president's emergency satchel" and is kept close to the president at all times. 

Inside, the briefcase holds all of the equipment and papers that the president would need to authenticate an order to launch a strike, as well as information about where to take shelter, according to CNN. 

In order to ensure that a strike could be launched at any moment, the vice president is always accompanied by a backup "football," which contains the same information as the president's.  

The members of the House of Representatives prosecuting Trump for insurrection rested their case in his ongoing impeachment trial on Thursday afternoon.  

Lawyers for Trump began their arguments on Friday, insisting he had not encouraged violence, and a final vote is expected as early as this weekend.

Trump's conviction would require that 17 Republican senators vote guilty with the Democratic majority.

If convicted, a subsequent vote would determine if he was barred from running for federal office again. 

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