WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Shortly after sunset on Wednesday, President Donald Trump secretly boarded an undisclosed aircraft at an undisclosed airport in Florida and flew to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, according to pool reports from media who traveled with the president.
Air Force One, the plane Trump took from Andrews to Florida Tuesday evening, remained parked on the tarmac at Palm Beach International Airport as part of the subterfuge.
Meanwhile, at Andrews AFB, located just outside Washington, D.C., a dozen reporters in the White House travel pool were told to meet on the top floor of a parking garage at 7:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday. They were not told where they were going.
For about 16 hours, the pool reporters, who chronicle nearly everything the president says or does, went silent. When the news blackout was finally lifted at 2 p.m. on Thursday, pool reporters in Afghanistan told a fascinating tale of the clandestine operations that enabled Trump to sneak out of Mar-a-Lago and onto a military base in a country occupied by Islamic State and Taliban fighters.
According to the pool reports, vans drove the reporters from the top of the parking garage to a security checkpoint. They were required to surrender their cellphones and other devices that emit signals. From there, they went to a cavernous hangar where they boarded another Air Force One and awaited the president’s arrival.
The president boarded Air Force One at 9:49 p.m. and the plane took off 20 minutes later with its interior lights off and shades drawn.