Rumors have spread online that Donald Trump‘s personal plane had been impounded as the former president had been deemed a “flight risk” in the ongoing investigation into allegations of hush money payments in New York.
Trump is being investigated by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, over his alleged involvement in hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels by Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was allegedly paid $130,000 by Cohen in 2016 to stay quiet about her supposed involvement with Trump while the presidential campaign was ongoing. Cohen has said under oath and in print that he was reimbursed by Trump. Trump denies wrongdoing and denies having an affair with Daniels.
If charges are brought, it would be the first indictment of a former president and could damage Trump’s hopes of retaking the presidency in the 2024 race, where he remains the only likely contender to have declared candidacy so far.
A grand jury has been hearing testimony from witnesses, and Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, confirmed that his client had also been invited to testify last week—which legal experts described as the “last stop” before an indictment. Trump himself claimed on Saturday that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday.
“BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump deemed flight risk, NYPD impounds Trump Force One,” SnarkTank, a social media user, wrote in a tweet that, as of 6:20 a.m. ET on Tuesday had been viewed more than 274,000 times.
Below was a photoshopped image of Trump’s own jet with the front wheel raised onto an NYPD tow truck, with a New York City street in the background.
While many saw this as an attempt at satire, others appeared to take the claim seriously. “Thank goodness!” wrote one. “That hunk of junk probably would have crashed in the ocean.”
This may be a reference to reports in 2022 that Trump’s plane, a Boeing 757, had been mothballed as it was no longer needed. Trump stated at the time it was going through scheduled maintenance before going back into service.
“I made a petition to put Trump on the FBI no fly list a couple years ago,” another tweeted. “Dreams do come true.”
Another, anonymous account wrote: “Has anybody ever heard some common saying in America, the claim that a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich, do tell? Who wants to believe in the justice principle, about a suspect is presumed guilty until proven innocent?”
As of 7 a.m. ET, “Trump Force One,” the name given to Trump’s personal jet, which became a prominent mode of transport during the 2016 presidential campaign, was trending on Twitter with 12,600 tweets.
While authorities can impound property as part of criminal proceedings, there is no indication that they have done or will do so with regards to the investigation of Trump, which at the time of writing remains an investigation.
Trump himself has urged supporters to protest any arrest, suggesting his intention to fight the case in the U.S. He has also vowed to continue his political campaign, and Republican allies have argued he had a “constitutional right” to run in the 2024 election.
Newsweek contacted the office of the Manhattan district attorney via direct message and Trump’s campaign via email on Tuesday for comment.
The original poster himself admitted that the source of the “breaking news” was “my brain and photoshop” in subsequent tweets. Asked if the story was true, SnarkTank responded: “Not remotely, there’s no way that thing would last a minute in NYC without its hubcaps being stolen.”
“[People] really saw this and thought a boing 747 would be propped up and repoed through NYC,” one user wrote incredulously. “Shame on some of you for thinking this is real,” another commenter said.
If Trump’s plane were impounded in New York City, it would be hard for it to appear sitting on the tarmac in Florida on Monday.
Part of the reason Trump’s plane was trending appears to be posts from spotters of the aircraft at Palm Beach Airport, located a short distance from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, reporting that stairs to the aircraft had on Monday been moved into place—prompting speculation the former president was headed to New York City.
False. It is highly unlikely at this time that Trump’s personal Boeing 757 plane has been impounded, as no charges have yet been made against him and it appears still to be in his personal use.
FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK
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