Trump in­ter­jects him­self in Air Force One and busi­ness deals

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

FAYETTEVILLE: Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, a po­lit­i­cal new­comer who touts his cor­po­rate skills, turned busi­ness­man-in-chief Tues­day, first de­mand­ing the gov­ern­ment can­cel a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar or­der for new pres­i­den­tial planes and then hail­ing a Ja­panese com­pany’s com­mit­ment to in­vest bil­lions in the US. “We will de­fend Amer­i­can jobs. We have to look at it al­most like a war,” Trump thun­dered in North Carolina, vow­ing to keep com­pa­nies from mov­ing over­seas dur­ing the sec­ond stop of his “thank you” tour to salute his sup­port­ers. “We want the next gen­er­a­tion of in­no­va­tion and pro­duc­tion to hap­pen right here in Amer­ica.”

Trump was far less bom­bas­tic than dur­ing the tour’s kick­off in Ohio last week, strik­ing more of the heal­ing notes tra­di­tion­ally de­liv­ered by a pres­i­dent-to-be in the weeks af­ter a bruis­ing elec­tion. He will travel to Ohio State Uni­ver­sity on Thurs­day to meet with some of the vic­tims of the re­cent car-and-knife at­tack that left 11 peo­ple in­jured, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the plans but not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss them be­fore they are an­nounced. “We will heal our di­vi­sions and unify our coun­try. When Amer­i­cans are uni­fied there is noth­ing we can­not do - noth­ing!” Trump told the crowd in Fayetteville. “I’m ask­ing you to dream big again as Amer­i­cans. I’m ask­ing you to be­lieve in yourselves.”

The Repub­li­can busi­ness­man largely stuck to the script Tues­day - and, in a change, even stopped the crowd when it started to boo the me­dia - and avoided some of the score-set­tling and scorched-earth rhetoric that de­fined his cam­paign and was present again last week in Cincin­nati. He also re­peated his vow to for­tify the na­tion’s mil­i­tary and brought Marine Gen James Mat­tis on stage, of­fi­cially nam­ing his choice to be De­fense Sec­re­tary af­ter teas­ing it last week.

Boe­ing’s stock drops

Ear­lier in the day, Trump plainly tele­graphed that when he takes of­fice in six weeks he’ll take an in­ter­ven­tion­ist role in the na­tion’s econ­omy - as well as play show­man when he sees a chance. The celebrity busi­ness­man’s dec­la­ra­tion about Air Force One caused man­u­fac­turer Boe­ing’s stock to drop tem­po­rar­ily and raised fresh ques­tions about how his ad­min­is­tra­tion - not to men­tion his Twit­ter vol­leys could af­fect the econ­omy. “The plane is to­tally out of con­trol,” Trump told re­porters in the lobby of Trump Tower. “I think Boe­ing is do­ing a lit­tle bit of a num­ber. We want Boe­ing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.” Ear­lier he had tweeted that the deal’s costs were “out of con­trol, more than $4 bil­lion. Can­cel or­der!”

Not long af­ter his first ap­pear­ance, Trump re­turned to the lobby with Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank, a mas­sive telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany that counts Sprint among its hold­ings. Trump pointed proudly to Son’s com­mit­ment to in­vest $50 bil­lion in the United States, which Trump said could cre­ate 50,000 jobs. Trump - who also tweeted the deal shook Son’s hand and posed for pho­tos, rev­el­ing as he had last week when he toured a Car­rier plant in In­di­ana where he said he had in­sti­gated an agree­ment that will pre­serve about 1,000 jobs the ap­pli­ance maker had planned to move to Mex­ico. De­tails of the deal were scarce and it was un­clear if the money was part of a fund of up to $100 bil­lion in global tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ments that SoftBank and the gov­ern­ment of Saudi Ara­bia an­nounced in Oc­to­ber. As for Air Force One, the gov­ern­ment has agreed that Boe­ing will build two new planes, which would go into ser­vice around 2024. That means Trump might never fly on the air­craft, which carry US pres­i­dents around the globe. The Air Force has pressed for a faster sched­ule, say­ing the ag­ing cur­rent Boe­ing 747s are be­com­ing too ex­pen­sive to re­pair and keep in good fly­ing shape. The over­all deal for re­search­ing, de­vel­op­ing and build­ing new planes was to be about $3 bil­lion, but costs have been re­ported to be ris­ing.

The Gen­eral Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice es­ti­mated in March that about $2 bil­lion of the to­tal for work be­tween 2010 and 2020 - was for re­search and de­vel­op­ment on com­plex sys­tems, not for build­ing the ac­tual air­craft. The in­flated $4 bil­lion fig­ure Trump cited ap­pears to in­clude op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance as well. Boe­ing re­sponded to Trump Tues­day in a state­ment: “We are cur­rently un­der con­tract for $170 mil­lion to help de­ter­mine the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of these com­plex mil­i­tary air­craft that serve the unique re­quire­ments of the pres­i­dent of the United States. We look for­ward to work­ing with the US Air Force on sub­se­quent phases of the pro­gram al­low­ing us to de­liver the best planes for the pres­i­dent at the best value for the Amer­i­can tax­payer.” The $170 mil­lion fig­ure is just for a por­tion of the re­search and de­vel­op­ment ef­forts. Trump be­gan his on­slaught against Boe­ing at 8:52 am, tweet­ing “Boe­ing is build­ing a brand new 747 Air Force One for fu­ture pres­i­dents, but costs are out of con­trol, more than $4 bil­lion. Can­cel or­der!” That tweet came 22 min­utes af­ter The Chicago Tribune posted a story in which the Boe­ing CEO voiced con­cerns about Trump’s views on trade.

The pres­i­dent-elect then de­scended to the lobby of the Man­hat­tan sky­scraper that bears his name to re­it­er­ate his case. Trump had tweeted in 2013 that he owned Boe­ing stock, but a spokesman said Tues­day he sold all of his stock hold­ings in June. That sale was not pub­li­cized by the cam­paign at the time, and aides did not re­veal how much cash it might have gen­er­ated. If Trump had held onto his stock port­fo­lio, he would have been re­quired to re­peat­edly file re­ports with the US Of­fice of Gov­ern­ment Ethics. A 2012 up­date of the Ethics in Gov­ern­ment Act obliges pres­i­dents and other se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to re­port such trans­ac­tions.

Trump now uses his own plane, a Boe­ing 757, which he has out­fit­ted with white leather and gold, a large flat-screen tele­vi­sion and a bed­room. But as pres­i­dent it is ex­pected that he would travel aboard the Air Force jet, which is equipped with spe­cial safety, de­fen­sive and com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment. Air Force One also has seat­ing for re­porters; Trump gen­er­ally does not al­low the press on his own plane. Later this week, Trump will use that plane to travel to ral­lies in Iowa and Michi­gan, And on Satur­day, Trump will at­tend the 117th an­nual Army-Navy foot­ball game. The game be­tween the two mil­i­tary acad­e­mies of­ten draws the com­man­der in chief; both Barack Obama and Ge­orge W. Bush have at­tended in re­cent years.

— AP

FLORIDA: Air Force One is seen on the tar­mac at An­drews Air Force Base, Md Tues­day, Dec 6, 2016, be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama boards en route to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump wants the gov­ern­ment’s con­tract for a new Air Force One can­celed.

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