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A day after President-elect Donald Trump said he would “cancel” an order with Boeing for new Air Force One jets, he on Wednesday explained his criticism of the company.
“Well I think the planes are too expensive,” Trump told NBC host Matt Lauer on the “Today” show. “I spoke to a terrific guy yesterday, the head of Boeing, and I think we’re going to work it out, but you know, that’s what I’m here for – I’m going to negotiate prices.”
Trump on Tuesday said the cost of developing the new Boeing 747-8s that are slated to become the next Air Force One is upward of $4 billion. A statement from Boeing clarified that it was under contract for $170 million to explore the development of a new plane. The Air Force also said it had budgeted $3.2 billion to be spent over 10 years for two planes that would both act as Air Force One.
“The planes are too expensive, and we’re going to get the prices down,” Trump said Wednesday. “If we don’t get the prices down, we’re not going to order them, and we’re going to stay with what he have.”
As reported by Business Insider’s Benjamin Zhang, the new planes would be scheduled to enter service in 2024, when the current planes will be 34 years old.
Trump said criticism from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg was not the reason for his tweet. Multiple media outlets pointed out that Trump’s tweet on Tuesday came shortly after a Chicago Tribune article highlighted comments from Muilenburg criticizing some of the president-elect’s trade policies.
“Only the planes, because I didn’t see any article where he was critical of trade policies, and my trade policies are going to be terrific,” Trump said.
Boeing is one of the US’s largest exporters.
Lauer also asked Trump whether he thought his tweet had made business leaders and CEOs nervous they would be the next to be targeted by the president-elect on social media, pointing to a Washington Post story that said CEOs were “unnerved” by Trump’s “unpredictable” tweeting.
“What happens is they are so unnerved that the stock market is at an all-time record since I won the nomination – number one, we did well – and after I won the election you see what happened,” Trump said. “In the history of our country, there’s never been an up this big after an election. So I don’t know how somebody said that people are unnerved – it’s just the opposite.”
Trump also defended his trade policies, which economists and business leaders have worried could cause a damaging trade war in the US. In fact, Trump himself compared trade to war at a victory rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on Tuesday night.
“I believe in free trade, but I don’t believe in stupid trade,” Trump told Lauer. “Stupid trade is when companies all move out of country, fire their workers, and then come back in Matt and sell their product back in with no retribution.”
Trump also reiterated his proposal that if a company moves jobs to other countries, its products will be subject to a tax.