Air Force One

Trump’s first Air Force One trip symbolizes his launch into his presidency, and with this launch comes a series of executive orders, many controversial, and decisions that will shape the future of American politics and global affairs for years to come.

At the  Joint Base Andrews, the temperature is mild, but it is windy. This morning, President Donald J. Trump has embarked on his first trip on Air Force One for the 40-minute flight to the Republican conference retreat in Philadelphia.

embarking on AF1
embarking on AF1

This was the first time since his presidency that the press pool joined him on the flight and both Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway made sure to stop by the press cabin. Conway stated that “as a guest”, she has flown on Air Force One once before during the George W. Bush administration but that this time it felt different.  “That’s not an anti-Bush statement,” she said with a chuckle.

In a dark suit and red and white striped tie, escorted by an Air Force officer, emerged President Donald J. Trump. He first saluted the Air Force guards standing at attention and then boarded the stairs.  Followed by Reince Priebus, Keith Schiller, Hope Hicks and Stephen Bannon, he did not turn for the traditional wave before disappearing into the plane.

On the flight, the White House Press Secretary Spicer held a press gaggle which focused on Mexico, executive orders on CIA black sites and torture technique reviews, as well as immigration, all topics that have dominated the first week of the American presidency.

On Mexico

As it has been announced, the visit of the President of Mexico has been canceled. “We will look for a date to schedule something in the future. We will keep the lines of communication open,” the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed during the flight.

When it comes to the wall, Spicer reaffirmed that the president’s been very clear on his intention to build the wall and how it would be paid for. “I think he’s been consistent with that throughout. I think he wants to make sure that’s understood that it would be part of the topics to be discussed.”

On the payment from Mexico for the wall, Spicer did not provide any further details as to how that might happen but said it would come from “a variety of potential sources” to pay for it.

On the Executive order regarding CIA black sites and torture technique reviews

On the draft Executive orders regarding the CIA black sites, and whether or not they came from the White House, Spicer said that they are going to continue to look into that, but he insisted once again that they were not derived from White House sources.

“Where they originated from were not White House originated documents”, said Spicer.

He said it was still his understanding that President Trump has not seen those documents. But he said that “there’s a question of what he wants and whether or not those documents reflect his current thinking.”

Regarding the torture technique review, Spicer said that President Trump can review it through executive action and that he is going to look to the recommendations of people like Gen. Mattis and CIA director Mike Pompeo. Spicer confirmed that the President is willing to listen to their opinions on the effectiveness of some of those techniques on the results that they get. “The legality is that once you realize the effectiveness, then you can work within the law to ensure, whether it’s the manuals or the laws or the orders, reflect what the intent is,” said Spicer.

On immigration restrictions

President Trump announced that we can expect extreme vetting when it comes to immigration.  During the flight, Spicer said that we can expect more executive actions likely on Friday and maybe next week. President Trump will review if various orders meet his goals and then move forward if they do.

As to the DACA, it has been suggested that the administration is still reviewing the program. “Where does the program go from now?  What do you do with renewals.? When you look at the big picture of that, there are several steps in terms of how the current program continues to exist, how you deal with renewal, and then how we deal with processing the issue itself in the future. That is all under review as well as the specific steps,” said Sean Spicer.

AF1 desembarking
Disembarking in Philadelphia

After the bumpy flight, Air Force One landed at 11:59 a.m.  The tarmac was slick with rain but partly sunny overhead. There were no greeters. President Trump disembarked at 12:12 p.m.  and looked at the pool with a wave this time before descending the stairs.

Asked about the President’s impressions from the flight on Air Force One, Spicer shared his insight:

“I saw him up forward in the cabin. He continues to react the same way he has throughout his time in his presidency, in awe of the splendor of this plane and what the White House represents,” said the White House Press Secretary Spicer.


FOLLOW UP on Mexico: It has been suggested that President Trump has arrived at a decision as to how Mexico will pay for the wall. Specifically, America will impose a 20% tax on all imports from Mexico. More to follow as the story develops.

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