According to Insider, hours after Trump’s plane was forced to make an emergency landing over the weekend, his PAC issued a fundraising email advertising the construction of a new private jet nicknamed “Trump Force One.”
According to Politico, a jet carrying Trump made an unexpected landing last Saturday while returning from a Republican National Committee donor gathering in New Orleans to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. According to the Washington Post, the jet, which belonged to a benefactor who donated it to Trump for the occasion, suffered engine problems 75 miles after taking off from New Orleans and had to return. Trump eventually flew home on the plane of Craig Estey, the chairman of Nevada Restaurant Services, another Republican fundraiser.
According to Insider, the Trump Save America PAC received a fundraising email regarding a “very significant update on his jet” hours after the incident was revealed.”Would you like to tour the new Trump Force One?” asked the email, which included a link to a website asking for monthly recurring payments of up to $2,500. “I have a very important update on my plane, but I need to trust that you won’t share it with anyone,” said the email, which was signed by Trump (and presumably sent to many thousands of actual or possible donors). “My team is building a BRAND NEW Trump Force One.”
“The construction of this plane has been under wraps,” the email said, “not even the fake news media knows about it — and I can’t wait to unveil it for everyone to see.” Critics accused the self-proclaimed billionaire of defrauding his fans in order to fund the purchase of a new private plane. “These folks are grifters,” tweeted journalist Roland Martin. “If your billionaire savior needs you to pay for his jet maybe he’s not being honest about his wealth,” wrote Fox News contributor Chris Hahn. “Trump is entering televangelist territory at this point,” said Derek Martin of the government watchdog group Accountable.US. “I thought this guy was ultra-wealthy?”
According to CNN last year, the old “Trump Force One,” a Boeing 757 that Trump purchased in 2011 and used extensively on the campaign trail in 2016, has been sitting idle and in disrepair at an airport in Newburgh, New York, roughly 60 miles north of Manhattan. According to the source, one of the plane’s engines is missing parts, while the other is shrink-wrapped in plastic. Instead, Trump has been flying in a smaller 1997 Cessna that “isn’t his favourite” because aircraft “doesn’t have his name on the exterior,” according to a Trump confidant. Aviation experts were surprised that Trump left his favourite jet outdoors in the elements, but a former senior Trump aide told CNN that “just getting it up in the air and making one stop was literally tens of thousands of dollars.”
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It’s unclear whether Trump is genuinely purchasing a new plane or merely repairing his existing one using donated monies. The original “Trump Force One” is being “completely refurbished and upgraded and will be placed back into service,” Trump declared in May. He went on to say that the plane would be given new engines and a fresh paint job, and that it would be “used again at subsequent rallies.” It’s unclear whether Trump’s political action committee is gathering funds for the jet.
“PACs are often used as slush funds,” Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert at the good government nonprofit Common Cause, told CNN. “Campaign finance law doesn’t require PAC money to be used for political purposes, leaving open the possibility that Trump could use PAC funds to pay for private plane repairs.”