According to the original plan, Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to fly to New Hampshire on July 2 for an event on the opioid epidemic, and he’d return to D.C. a day later. But that morning, there was an abrupt change of plans and Pence was called back to the White House.
In fact, about 15 minutes before the vice president’s plane was scheduled to land, someone from his office announced on stage in New Hampshire, “Air Force Two was heading this way. There’s been an emergency call-back. The vice president was asked to return to Washington so at this time we’re going to cancel today’s event.”
A different official said soon after that it was a “diversion,” not an “emergency.”
A few days later, reporters asked Donald Trump what happened. “There was a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire,” the president replied. “And I can’t tell you about it…. There was a problem up there. And I won’t go into what the problem was, but you’ll see in about a week or two.”
It’s been a week. As Politico reported yesterday, the official line hasn’t changed.
The mystery surrounding Vice President Mike Pence’s scrapped trip to New Hampshire last week is still alive, with his chief of staff telling reporters Wednesday morning that he can’t yet offer up an explanation.
“I can’t talk about that,” Pence chief of staff Marc Short told reporters on the White House driveway. He said the public could expect an answer “in a few weeks.”
Administration officials have been willing to say that the cancellation was unrelated to national security or a health-related emergency. We also know that Pence had already boarded the plane at the time of the cancellation, but it hadn’t yet taken off.
Beyond these details, we don’t know much – and since everyone loves a mystery, the ambiguity is unsatisfying.
It’s easy to imagine a possible threat against the vice president leading to a cancellation, but Salem Deputy Police Chief Joel Dolan told the Washington Post he wasn’t alerted to any such problem.
“We were not aware of any threats to the vice president or the facility,” Dolan said. “We would have known about it. It would have been addressed by us.”
The Post’s article added, “Dolan said he was standing with Secret Service agents at about 11 a.m. when they received word that the vice president was not coming. Dolan said the agents, who conducted a sweep of the facility, seemed surprised, too.”
It’s entirely possible that there’s a reasonable explanation for what transpired. It’s also possible that there’s a legitimate reason to keep the explanation under wraps, at least temporarily.
But it’s also understandable why questions linger. Between the abrupt cancelation, Team Trump’s incessant dishonesty, and the administration’s penchant for needless secrecy, the White House can’t complain too much when people ask what happened and why.