Monday, 28 Sep 2020

Offering no proof, Trump alleges plane of 'thugs' targeted his convention

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said an investigation was under way into a plot involving “thugs” who boarded a plane seeking to damage the Republican Party convention last week, but offered no evidence and gave few details about an incident that appeared to reflect unproven viral social media posts.

Trump made the charge in a Fox News interview broadcast late on Monday. Asked for details Trump said: “I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation right now.” Pressed on whether it was a conspiracy theory, he told Fox “No.”

On Tuesday, Trump told reporters that it was something told to him by an individual he would not identify and said it was up to that person to detail more.

“This was a firsthand account of a plane going from Washington to wherever,” he said at Joint Base Andrews as he departed for a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin. People boarded “that obviously were looking for trouble. And the person felt very uncomfortable.”

Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration referred questions to the White House, which declined to comment.

Trump’s assertion was similar to rumors posted on Facebook that NBC reported began circulating in June about men dressed in black disembarking on planes in Idaho that prompted local authorities to eventually denounce.

Local officials at the time said the rumors were untrue.

The president initially told Fox News that one person had boarded the plane from a city that he did not name, then said the plane was “completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that.”

“There were like seven people on the plane like this person and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage,” he added.

Seeking re-election on a promise to restore “law and order,” Trump did not say who was investigating. National opinion polls show him trailing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

He did not say where the individuals departed from or whether they were headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Republican National Committee held some convention events ahead of the Nov. 3 election, or to Washington, where Trump accepted the party’s nomination.

He also did not specify what kind of gear the individuals were carrying or how they boarded a plane headed to a U.S. city with it. It was also unclear if the alleged incident may have occurred on a commercial or other flight, and if anyone was arrested or charged.

The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked for a comment, the Trump election campaign raised questions about financial backing for protests and riots around the country but did not specifically address Trump’s charges.

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