Trump takes role in Air Force One, investment deals

Jonathan Lemire
Associated Press

New York — President-elect Donald Trump 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 U.S.

Six weeks before taking office, Trump is telegraphing that he’ll take an interventionist role in the nation’s economy. 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.

Son spoke with reporters after the meeting with Trump and said his plans involve new companies.

“We were talking about it, and then I said I’d like to celebrate his presidential job” because Trump will advocate deregulation, Son told reporters, according to Bloomberg News. He said he would invest in “new companies, startup companies in the United States.”

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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.”

Kansas City Star contributed.

Spokesman: Trump has sold all his stocks

President-elect Donald Trump sold all of his stocks in June as he plunged into the costly general election campaign, his transition team abruptly announced Tuesday. His advisers provided no proof of the transactions and would not explain the apparent sell-off.

The announcement comes amid swirling questions about potential conflicts of interest between Trump’s expansive financial holdings and the decisions that will reach his desk as president. Some details of Trump’s finances are unknown given that he never released his tax returns during the presidential campaign.

Associated Press