The power to launch a nuclear attack has passed from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the inauguration (Pictures: Reuters/Storyful)
The bags – which contain the equipment a president needs to authenticate a nuclear strike – were pictured being carried through the corridors of the Capitol as they were handed over from Trump’s administration to Biden’s.
A military aide carries the ‘football’ and accompanies the president at all times so they can order a nuclear attack at a moment’s notice.
The handover is seen as one of the most important parts of inauguration day but, with Mr Trump travelling 1,000 miles away to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, officials had to come up with a new way of making the transfer.
Traditionally, military aides are able to pass the ‘football’ to each other as the new president is sworn in. But Trump was constitutionally obliged to have the codes with him until 11.59am so had to take them with him to Florida.
Aides carrying the distinctive back briefcases were pictured boarding Air Force One as Mr Trump jetted off for the last time as President earlier.
CNN reported a second nuclear ‘football’ was handed over in Washington while Trump’s codes were due to be turned off at noon and Mr Biden inherited the ability to launch a nuclear strike at exactly the same time.
It’s believed the new President and his Vice President Kamala Harris were briefed on the process of initiating a nuclear attack this morning.
An aide carrying the nuclear football boards Air Force One with Donald Trump earlier (Picture: Reuters)
A military aide carries the nuclear codes with the president at all times (Picture: Getty)
Mr Biden will have also been given a plastic card – known as a biscuit – which contains the codes he needs to identify himself as president.
In the US, only the President has the authority to launch a nuclear strike and this power resting in the hands of Mr Trump has caused considerable anxiety over the last four years.
Dozens of people on social media said they wouldn’t be able to relax until noon had past and the handover had been completed.
In 2018, the President warned North Korea he ‘had bigger and more powerful nuclear button’ just months after he threatened the Iranian leader Hasan Rouhani with ‘consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.’
In October 2018, Mr Trump was warned some of the threats he made on Twitter could be seen as violations of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
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Joe Biden inauguration 2021
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office during the inauguration ceremony today.
During the ceremony, Biden delivered a speech outline his vision for his term as president.
You can follow all the updates on our Inauguration Day live blog.
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