President Trump's surprise Thanksgiving Day trip to Afghanistan, his second to a war zone, was carried out in secrecy, and just how that came to pass is now being revealed. CNN reports Trump sneaked out of Mar-a-Lago and boarded "a bare-bones military plane" with "just four blue leather chairs and a portable toilet" at an undisclosed airport in Florida after nightfall Wednesday; the plane he had taken to Palm Beach International Airport remained on the tarmac. Trump reached Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, DC, around 9:30pm Wednesday, then boarded the second Air Force One—apparently hidden in a hangar—along with clueless reporters.
The journalists' electronic devices had been confiscated, and they only learned they were headed to Bagram Air Base outside of Kabul some 11 hours into the 13-hour flight, per USA Today. "It's a dangerous area" but the president and first lady "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," said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on the plane. CNN describes weeks of planning involving pre-scheduled tweets by a president who "rarely goes a dozen hours without taking to social media." The landing, like the takeoff, occurred in darkness, with the plane's shades drawn and interior lights off. Reporters could only comment nearly 3.5 hours after touching down, minutes before the return trip began. (Here's what Trump got up to on the ground.)