Chalk up another deal President Donald Trump didn’t nail down.
Although Trump often boasted — as recently as June — that he personally negotiated a significant bargain on a contract for new twin Air Force One jets, the total cost is now $1.2 billion more than the original price Trump complained about.
Trump squawked after his election that the $4 billion pricetag he cited for the Boeing 747s modified for presidential use was “out of control.” He tweeted: “Cancel order!”
The Pentagon issued its first formal acquisition report on the presidential planes earlier this month, and the new total cost is … $5.2 billion, Air Force Magazine reported. That’s $4.7 billion for the jets and $500 million for associated costs, such as hangar construction. That’s also a 30% increase over the cost Trump claimed he reduced.
But it may be even worse. While Trump claimed in 2016 that costs were some $4 billion, the Government Accountability Office put the estimated figure that year at only $3.2 billion, according to Dana Milbank of The Washington Post.
Trump was sputtering in 2015 about the cost of the new planes, which he then cited as $3 billion in an interview. “They’re giving out a new, as you know, Air Force One, and that’s a $3 billion — with a ‘B’ — plane … I guarantee you, I could save hundreds of millions of dollars,” he boasted.
By 2017 he was fuming about a $4.2 pricetag. “Can you believe this?” he asked at a Florida rally. “I said I refuse to fly in a $4.2 billion airplane. I got Boeing in … We’ve got that price down by over $1 billion and I probably haven’t spoken for more than an hour on the project.”
When contacted by the media afterward, Air Force officials had no idea what he was talking about.
Trump, discussing the deal again in 2018 at a dinner with business leaders, declared: “I had a price of $5.6 billion. So we worked very long and very hard, and we have the same exact product for $1.6 billion less.” He also bragged to George Stephanopoulus in the Oval Office this June that he shaved $1.6 billion off the price.
The converted “flying White House” 747s had been scheduled to be finished in 2024, but Trump has requested they be delivered in 2021.