Continuing his policy of government-by-tweet, US President-elect Donald Trump said today he wants to cut costs by cancelling an order for new planes to carry the American president.
However, the announcement was short on detail – it’s hard to explain a multi-million dollar contract in 140 characters – and the White House responded that it was utterly incorrect.
Several other social media announcements from Trump Tower today were similarly buccaneering but short on background, facts or evidence.
Six weeks ahead of taking office, Trump tweeted: “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!”
The government has a contract with Boeing to build two or more new planes. They would enter service around 2024 so Trump will not use them unless wins a second term in 2020.
The White House said it was not clear where Trump got the figure.
“Some of the statistics that have been cited, shall we say, don’t appear to reflect the nature of the financial arrangement between Boeing and the Department of Defense,” said spokesman Josh Earnest.
The US Air Force said it had budgeted $2.7b for the project, “but expects this number to change”.
Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said: “We are currently under contract for $170m to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the president of the United States.”
Trump’s remarks came after the Chicago Tribune published a column in which Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg suggested the president-elect roll back his anti-trade rhetoric.
Boeing shares fell more than 1% after the tweet, but recovered most of their losses in afternoon trading.
The president-elect also announced Japan’s SoftBank has agreed to invest $US50b in the US aimed at creating 50,000 new jobs.
Trump made the claim after meeting SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. “Masa said he would never do this had we not won the election!” he tweeted.
In other developments:
– In his last major speech on national security, President Obama warned the US should not lose sight of its founding values while fighting terrorism
A Trump spokesman said he sold his entire share portfolio in June. There was no proof
Republicans in Congress warned Trump they would block his plan to impose punitive tariffs on US companies that relocate abroad
– Vice-President Joe Biden, 74, suggested he would be open to running for president for a third time, in 2020.