No Phones, Scripted Tweets: How Trump's Afghanistan Trip Was Kept Under Wraps

Donald Trump with US troops throughout a shock go to at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan


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 mentioned.

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 US and Taliban hoped to renew peace talks.

Maybe probably the most stunning side of the 33-hour roundtrip, which White Home spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham mentioned 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 dwelling.

Often 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 travelled 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 individual.

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“It’s a harmful space and he desires to help 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 exterior Washington, a daily departure spot for Trump, from which they had been pushed in minivans into the complicated.

That they had been advised forward of time that Trump could be travelling incognito to an undisclosed location.

As soon as inside the bottom, all sensible telephones and any gadgets that would ship a sign had been confiscated and never returned till at the very least two hours after Trump’s arrival at Bagram, the biggest U.S. base in Afghanistan.

All through the 13-hour flight, no one on board Air Power One had entry to their telephones, together with White Home employees, Grisham mentioned. The cabin lights had been principally 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 technique to a warfare zone, pointing to his unusually quiet Twitter account, which had despatched dozens of tweets the day earlier than.

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

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

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

(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)