- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
- White House officials dread flying with President Donald Trump on long foreign trips, according to CNN.
- Five current and former officials who have traveled aboard Air Force One described a restless president who spends a lot of time watching cable news and reviewing media coverage.
- “It’s like being held captive,” an official said.
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President Trump’s latest foreign flight to Japan was likely an unpleasant experience for the White House staffers flying with him.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak spoke to five current and former officials who described such transatlantic voyages aboard Air Force One as grueling. Staffers once vied for a spot on foreign trips. But three years into Trump’s administration, they now do their best to stay home, the report said.
The officials described a restless president who spends a lot of time watching cable news and reading boxes of newspapers.
“He will not go to sleep,” an official told CNN, adding that the president once summoned a meeting with an aide who was trying to catch a few hours of sleep before landing. The discussions at these meetings range from Trump’s upcoming agenda in the country he’s visiting to recent media coverage.
“It’s like being held captive,” an official said.
For staffers who are able to sleep, comfortable spots are hard to come by on the 4,000 square-foot aircraft. That’s because Air Force One is not loaded with lie-flat seats like private jets typically are. While Trump has a bedroom, staffers have to make do with office chairs, leather benches on the sides of the plane, and yoga mats, according to the report.
The report painted a picture of life aboard Air Force One that resembles other portraits of life on ground in the White House.
Televisions on board are constantly showing Fox News, the cable channel that Trump reportedly spends much of his “executive time” watching and live tweeting on a regular day. According to CNN, he spends hours watching cable news footage on a TiVo-like device while in the air.
Also, the president often complains about media coverage he doesn’t like and uses meetings to strategize how to respond to unfavorable stories.
Officials described a president who is averse to foreign travel in general, picky about the hotels he sleeps in, and concerned over whether he’s the sole guest of honor. Trump did not travel internationally during his first 100 days as in office. By comparison, President Barack Obama visited nine countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, and France – all key US allies.
After Trump returns from his Japan trip, he will head to the United Kingdom in June and meet the Queen during a state visit.