Hours after President Donald Trump abruptly canceled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s flight on a military aircraft to visit troops in Afghanistan with a congressional delegation, Melania Trump jetted down to Mar-a-Lago in Florida for vacation — on an Air Force plane.
The first lady boarded the military jet on Thursday at Andrews Air Force Base, NBC and other media outlets reported. Quartz estimated the cost of the vacation flight at $35,000.
On Thursday, Trump wrote to Pelosi that he was canceling her foreign flight “due to the shutdown.”
He added: “In light of 800,000 great American workers not receiving any pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”
Melania Trump’s flight was officially designated EXEC1F, a call-sign known to be used when members of a president’s family are aboard a military plane. The jet was a Boeing C32-A, which is the same type of aircraft used to transport the president, NBC reported. She and her son Barron arrived in West Palm Beach on Thursday evening and were expected to spend the long holiday weekend at the resort.
The flight was noted by @CivMilAir, a Twitter account that tracks “rare/interesting” air traffic. It posted screenshots of the plane’s trajectory and confirmed that the first lady had landed at Palm Beach International Airport.
Pelosi was scheduled to visit Brussels with other lawmakers to meet with “top NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies ― to affirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance,” said Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill. She then planned to visit troops in Afghanistan.
Hammill pointed out that Trump flew to Iraq during the government shutdown, and so did a delegation led by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.). Yet Trump grounded Pelosi the day after she suggested that he postpone his State of the Union address until the government shutdown was over.
A White House official told NBC News that all delegations planning to travel overseas that intended to use federally funded military aircraft had been grounded by Trump until the shutdown ended.
Twitter had a few words about the first lady’s trip to the Sunshine State: