Trump’s plans for 20 January

Official plane used by Trump will fly to Scotland just before Biden inauguration

Arrival of military plane president has occasionally used fuels questions over Trump’s plans for 20 January

It is usually a sign Trump is going to be somewhere for an extended period

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EUROPEAN PRESS GROUP

The murk surrounding Donald Trump’s likely whereabouts on his last day as president has thickened considerably with news that an official plane he has used in the past is due to fly to Scotland the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Trump himself is sticking to his refusal to accept his decisive electoral defeat. He has been caught cajoling election officials to “find” thousands of extra votes and is encouraging his supporters to gather for a “wild” day of protest on Wednesday when Congress is due to ratify the result.

The White House has refused to say what he will do when Biden is inaugurated on 20 January, raising the question of whether Trump will even leave the building voluntarily.

Most Trump-watchers expect him to dodge any event that would involve acknowledging his election loss. They predict he will stage a spectacular diversion to detract from Biden’s first day on the job.

Many versions of that scenario have the outgoing president flying to his private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. But Scotland’s Sunday Post has reported that Prestwick airport, near Trump’s Turnberry golf course resort, has been told to expect a US military Boeing 757 that has occasionally been used by Trump, on 19 January.

The report said that speculation over a possible inauguration day drama has been fuelled by sightings of US military surveillance aircraft circling Turnberry for a week in November, doing possible advance work.

“It is usually a sign Trump is going to be somewhere for an extended period,” the Post quoted an unnamed source as saying.

The 757 is a smaller, narrower plane than the Boeing 747-200Bs that are normally designated Air Force One. It is more often used by the vice-president and first lady, Melania Trump, than the president.

There was no immediate response to requests for comment from the White House or Prestwick airport.

Leaving the country before formally leaving office would be unprecedented for a US president.

Flying to Scotland before 20 January would be a way to get US taxpayers to pay for the first leg of a post-presidential holiday. It is also possible the flight was booked as a contingency by a candidate surprised by defeat and unsure what to do.

Multiple reports suggest he will face severe difficulties in his heavily indebted business empire.

New accounts published on Monday showed Trump’s array of golf properties in Scotland lost £3.4m in 2019, though Trump Turnberry showed a modest profit.

Meanwhile his neighbours at Mar-a-Lago have launched a legal effort to stop him moving there full-time, saying he is precluded by an agreement he signed in the early 1990s converting the estate from a private residence to a club.

Wherever Trump goes on 20 January, it is unlikely the exit will be quiet or particularly dignified. But it will be unlike any presidential departure the country has ever witnessed.

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