Speed Reads

Boeing controversy

The White House is downplaying Trump's active role in the decision to ground Boeing's 737 MAX planes

Wednesday's emergency order to ground Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is signed by acting Federal Aviation Administration head Daniel Elwell, and White House economic adviser Larry Kudrow tells The Washington Post that "brilliant" Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had made the call, "working with the FAA." But Wednesday afternoon's announcement, after just about every other country had grounded the 737 MAX, was made by President Trump, apparently after Trump had agreed the FAA would announce the decision.

"In public and in private, Trump presented himself as a key arbiter in deciding whether the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 planes would be able to keep flying," the Post reports, citing unidentified White House and administration officials. The Post continues:

Rather than simply being briefed on the FAA's findings in the days after the crash, Trump played an active role, participating in phone calls with Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg and other stakeholders, and offering his thoughts about the aviation industry. Asked by reporters about the decision to ground the plane, Trump left the impression that he had taken the lead, saying it was a "very tough decision." But in the days that followed, as Trump faced criticism about whether his administration acted too slowly and whether he should have been so involved, the White House sought to direct attention back to the aviation agency. [The Washington Post]

The FAA says the decision to ground the 737 MAX planes was based on a new analysis of satellite data, and White House officials said the FAA and Boeing had both argued to Trump that it was premature to ground the planes earlier. But "after Trump jumped in, some of the signature features of his presidency washed over the process," the Post says. "The typically plodding, data-driven forensic work of figuring out what caused an airplane to fall from the sky has given way to attention-grabbing tweets, administration infighting, and questions of government competence." Read more at The Washington Post.