No phones, scripted tweets: How Trump’s Afghanistan trip was kept under covers

No phones, scripted tweets: How Trump’s Afghanistan trip was kept under covers

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Notorious for leakages and chastened by previous security lapses, the White Home went to unusual lengths to keep President Donald Trump’s Thanksgiving trip to Afghanistan under covers, designing a cover story for his motions that included posting scripted tweets while he was in the air, administration officials said.

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

On Thursday, Trump dropped in unannounced on troops at Afghanistan’s Bagram military air base in his first trip to the country and only his second to a war zone throughout his presidency. He served soldiers a turkey supper and postured for selfies, prior to telling reporters that the United States and Taliban wanted to resume peace talks. [nL1N2880NT]

Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of the 33- hour roundtrip, which White Home spokesperson Stephanie Grisham said had actually been weeks in the making, was the administration’s success in keeping it secret up until soon before the president left Afghanistan to return home.

Often wrong-footed by leaks and Trump’s freewheeling usage of Twitter, the White Home notified just a tight circle of officials about the trip.

On Tuesday, Trump took a trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as set up, accompanied by the regular caravan of press reporters which follows the president on all journeys.

When those journalists awaited him to emerge for a Thursday afternoon conference call with the troops, per his official schedule, they discovered that over night he had flown the 13,400 km (8,331 miles) to Afghanistan to visit them personally.

” It is a harmful location and he wants to support the troops,” Grisham informed a small group of correspondents aboard Air Force One on Wednesday night, explaining why the White Home had concealed Trump’s real movements.

Just hours before, that second group of press reporters had privately collected at a car park near the Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, a routine departure spot for Trump, from which they were driven in minivans into the complex.

They had actually been informed ahead of time that Trump would be taking a trip incognito to an undisclosed location.

As soon as inside the base, all cellular phones and any gadgets that could send out a signal were seized and not returned until a minimum of two hours after Trump’s arrival at Bagram, the biggest U.S. base in Afghanistan.

Throughout the 13- hour flight, nobody on board Flying force One had access to their phones, including White House staff, Grisham said. The cabin lights were primarily switched off and window blinds stayed shut.

Last Christmas, en route to a troop see in Iraq, Air Force One was identified above England by an airplane spotter who tweeted a photo of its unique turquoise livery, triggering a social networks storm. Lots of hypothesized then that Trump was on his way to a war zone, pointing to his abnormally quiet Twitter account, which had actually sent lots of tweets the day before.

This time, Grisham said the White Home made plans to guarantee connection in the president’s Twitter account, which posted happy Thanksgiving tweets as he was in the air, consisting of one thanking the military.

” We simply had a nice Thanksgiving supper,” Trump said in the middle of chants of “U-S-A” during his speech at the Bagram base.

” I thought I was going to be doing it someplace else.”

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Michelle Price and Daniel Wallis

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