WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told a fanciful little tale Tuesday about Air Force One being denied landing rights in the Philippines during a trip by his predecessor because bilateral relations were so bad. That didn’t happen.
Before boarding the plane in Manila to come home, Trump bragged to the press that he’s pushed relations with the Philippines to new heights.
“And as you know, we were having a lot of problems with the Philippines,” he said. “The relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word. I would say horrible is putting it mildly. You know what happened. Many of you were there, and you never got to land. The plane came close but it didn’t land.”
That prompted a lot of head-scratching.
President Barack Obama last visited the Philippines in November 2015, arriving in Manila after an overnight flight from Turkey. There were no problems with landing the plane. Obama used the visit to announce the United States was transferring two ships to the Philippine Navy.
Perhaps Trump was referring erroneously to Obama’s aborted meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte? In September 2016, Obama abruptly canceled a meeting with the new Philippines leader in Laos after Duterte called him an obscene name. Duterte was warning Obama not to speak with him about the brutality of his crackdown on the illegal drug trade.
Obama went ahead with his Laos trip, meeting other leaders.
It’s possible Trump was referring to something other than an Obama presidential trip. But if he was, he didn’t say.
Story: Josh Lederman, Carol Woodward