There was no forward announcement of the trip, which Trump for security reasons made in a blacked-out plane on Thanksgiving eve, with White House staff members going to extraordinary lengths to shroud the trip in secrecy.
When Trump visited troops in Iraq at Christmas last year, close watchers of the president became suspicious when the usually Twitter-obsessed president fell silent for several hours.
Trump with a tray of Thanksgiving dinner during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to troops on Thursday at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
So to avoid suspicion this time, staffers sent out generic Thanksgiving messages from the president’s account as he made the 13-hour journey to Kabul, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, confirmed to The New York Times.
Trump started Wednesday with a round of golf at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, with the White House announcing that he would be spending the evening there.
But soon after Trump instead boarded Air Force One for the 7 p.m. flight to Afghanistan, where US troops have been stationed since 2002.
Even reporters who traveled with the president on the journey were told the destination only two hours before their arrival, Politico reported.
“It’s a dangerous area and he wants to support the troops,” Grisham told Politico. “He and Mrs. Trump recognize that there’s a lot of people far away from their families during the holidays, and we thought it’d be a nice surprise.”