In the dying days of his presidency, Donald Trump has taken to asking some aides and advisers about the process of naming airports after former U.S. presidents, according to two people who’ve heard him recently inquiring on this.
One of the two sources relayed that, in the past three weeks, Trump mentioned that “no president” wants an American airport that has a bad reputation or crumbling infrastructure named after them. The other knowledgeable source said that Trump had, at one point since the 2020 election, offhandedly asked what kind of “paperwork” was necessary to get an airport named after a former president.
Trump’s focus on airport namings suggests that his mind has begun to wander towards the ceremonial elements that accompany life after the presidency. It also shows that his infatuation with having pieces of infrastructure emblazoned with his name hasn’t faded at all with his time occupying the single most powerful position in the world.
Another individual close to Trump told The Daily Beast that they could recall the president mentioning at least a couple times since early 2018 his desire for having a national or international airport in the United States named after “Donald J. Trump,” and that he hoped there would be an aggressive organized effort to do so akin to the push to name the Washington, D.C.-area national airport after President Ronald Reagan. This source also said that they’d once heard President Trump ramble about what kind of Navy aircraft carrier he’d want commissioned and christened as the “USS Donald Trump” in the years following his time in office. (He may never get one of those, either, though.)
In the United States, there are airports named after former presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George Washington (technically, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is named after both the 40th and first U.S. president). In the case of the one bearing Reagan and Washington’s namesakes, President Clinton signed legislation adding the former’s name. Following JFK’s assassination, the then-mayor of New York City, Robert Wagner, proposed the international airport’s name be changed to honor the slain Democrat.
White House spokespeople did not provide comment for this story.
Trump, very likely, will have a number of allied state and national politicians eager to demonstrate their devotion to him with an airport-naming push. But the process isn’t supposed to come until after he leaves office. The fact that it’s on his mind now, amid an exploding coronavirus crisis and accompanying economic problems, demonstrates how far his attention can drift even during weighty and difficult moments.
Trump has been eyeing other post-presidency possibilities beyond airport-naming ceremonies. He’s quietly discussed rebooting his reality TV show The Apprentice. He’s started gaming out some scenarios of how to keep the GOP in line with him over the next four years, should he decide to run again in 2024, and about ways to upstage President-elect Joe Biden, including possibly on Inauguration Day next month. And he’s begun fretting about Biden potentially getting credit for COVID-19 vaccine distribution occurring during the next administration, and worrying about what kind of legal drama could be waiting for him on the other side of the presidency.
But even as he ponders life outside the corridors of power in Washington, President Trump has continued to incessantly spread lies to his supporters and voters that he won the election he clearly lost. In the past few days, Trump has also entertained hearing out extreme options of overturning the will of the voters, including meeting with conspiracy theory-spouting lawyer Sidney Powell at the White House on Friday to discuss appointing her “special counsel” to investigate their groundless allegations of massive, anti-Trump election fraud conspiracy.
According to The New York Times, Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, was also at the White House gathering, during which Trump even asked about Flynn’s absurd, democracy-canceling suggestion that his former boss could invoke martial law to get the U.S. military to “re-run” the 2020 presidential election.