Donald Trump has raised eyebrows by departing on a seventeen day golf vacation in New Jersey at a time when his grasp on the presidency is slipping away by the hour in Washington DC. In terms of his own political future, Trump couldn’t have picked a less opportune time to skip town. But there may end up being an entirely different reason why Trump’s vacation raises eyebrows: the arrival today of a private plane in New Jersey owned by a Russian oligarch.
On the same day that Donald Trump traveled to Bedminster, New Jersey to begin his vacation, a private plane belonging to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich arrived at nearby Newark International Airport. Abramovich isn’t just any Russian oligarch; he’s very close to Vladimir Putin, and his wife attended Donald Trump’s inauguration in January (source: link). This flight pattern was uncovered by Juha Keskinen, who has been tracking the relevant flight information for some time (source: Juha Keskinen). Flight plans of private planes can be publicly tracked online, meaning the owners of these planes have less privacy in their travels than they sometimes think they have.
There are a number of caveats here. Just because Mr. Abramovich’s plane arrived in Newark today, it doesn’t mean that he or his wife were necessarily on it. It’s possible they could have lent the plane to someone else, for a trip that has nothing to do with Trump. And while Newark is the airport that one would fly into when traveling to Bedminster, it should be pointed out that Newark also serves as a de facto third airport for New York City, after JFK and Laguardia. So whoever was on the Abramovich plane could have been ultimately heading to New York, and not to New Jersey.
But if this is a mere coincidence, it’s a remarkable one. And it’s not the first time a Russian oligarch has flown into a particular location while Donald Trump was there. It’s happened with Dmitry Rybolovlev at least twice, though he insists those were in fact coincidences, and that he never met with Trump. And now we have the plane of another Russian billionaire arriving in New Jersey on the same day that Trump has arrived in New Jersey. Now it’s a matter of determining if Mr. or Mrs. Abramovich were actually on their private plane, and if so, whether they did indeed travel on to Bedminster after landing in Newark.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report