No telephones, scripted tweets: How Trump’s Afghanistan journey was stored beneath wraps

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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Information) – Infamous for leaks and chastened by earlier safety lapses, the White Home went to uncommon lengths to maintain President Donald Trump’s Thanksgiving journey to Afghanistan beneath wraps, devising a canopy story for his actions that included posting scripted tweets whereas he was within the air, administration officers stated.

President Donald Trump eats dinner with U.S. troops at a Thanksgiving dinner occasion throughout a shock go to at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, November 28, 2019. Information/Tom Brenner

On Thursday, Trump dropped in unannounced on troops at Afghanistan’s Bagram army air base in his first journey to the nation and solely his second to a warfare zone throughout his presidency. He served troopers a turkey dinner and posed for selfies, earlier than telling reporters that the USA and Taliban hoped to renew peace talks.

Maybe essentially the most shocking side of the 33-hour roundtrip, which White Home spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham stated had been weeks within the making, was the administration’s success in conserving it secret till shortly earlier than the president left Afghanistan to return residence.

Continuously wrong-footed by leaks and Trump’s freewheeling use of Twitter, the White Home knowledgeable solely a good circle of officers concerning the journey.

On Tuesday, Trump traveled to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as scheduled, accompanied by the common caravan of reporters which follows the president on all journeys.

When these journalists waited for him to emerge for a Thursday afternoon convention name with the troops, per his official schedule, they learnt that in a single day he had flown the 13,400 km (eight,331 miles) to Afghanistan to go to them in particular person.

“It’s a harmful space and he desires to assist the troops,” Grisham advised a small group of correspondents aboard Air Power One on Wednesday night, explaining why the White Home had hid Trump’s true actions.

Solely hours earlier than, that second group of reporters had secretly gathered at a parking zone close to the Joint Base Andrews outdoors Washington, a daily departure spot for Trump, from which they had been pushed in minivans into the complicated.

They’d been advised forward of time that Trump can be touring incognito to an undisclosed location.

As soon as inside the bottom, all good telephones and any units that might ship a sign had been confiscated and never returned till a minimum of two hours after Trump’s arrival at Bagram, the most important U.S. base in Afghanistan.

All through the 13-hour flight, no person on board Air Power One had entry to their telephones, together with White Home workers, Grisham stated. The cabin lights had been largely switched off and window blinds stayed shut.

Final Christmas, en path to a troop go to in Iraq, Air Power One was recognized above England by a aircraft spotter who tweeted a photograph of its distinctive turquoise livery, sparking a social media storm. Many speculated then that Trump was on his option to a warfare zone, pointing to his unusually quiet Twitter account, which had despatched dozens of tweets the day earlier than.

This time, Grisham stated the White Home made preparations to make sure continuity within the president’s Twitter account, which posted joyful Thanksgiving tweets as he was within the air, together with one thanking the army.

“We simply had a pleasant Thanksgiving dinner,” Trump stated amid chants of “U-S-A” throughout his speech on the Bagram base.

“I believed I used to be going to be doing it someplace else.”

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Modifying by Michelle Worth and Daniel Wallis