President Donald Trump asked “a lot of tough questions” of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in a call the day before the administration decided to ground the company’s 737 MAX jets, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with POLITICO.
Kudlow said in an interview set to air on C-SPAN tonight that he sat in on the call, and while he would not share specifics of the conversation, Trump “had a lot of tough questions for Boeing,” comparing the call to the “POTUS cross-examination” that he’s experienced on policy issues.
Trump’s friendly relationship with Boeing has received increased scrutiny since the 737 MAX crash and subsequent grounding, including the $1 million Boeing donated to his inauguration. Muilenburg has also spoken to Trump multiple times since he was elected, and served on a manufacturing council that was eventually disbanded in August 2017. During his announcement that he had decided to ground the planes, Trump called Boeing “a great, great company with a track record that is so phenomenal.”
That decision, which was made by FAA and DOT despite Trump’s front-and-center role, came on Wednesday, days after most other countries whose airlines use the model had already done so. Kudlow said the wait was “of no consequence.”
“It has nothing to do with commercial considerations as far as we are concerned and it has everything to do with safety considerations. So to be honest with you, I wouldn’t read a thing into” the wait, he said.Boeing and the FAA are working on a software fix to address problems with the MAX planes, while the investigation into Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia continues.
Kudlow said the administration won’t let the planes fly again until aviation officials have determined they’re safe to fly.”They won’t be back on the runways until we are absolutely, 100 percent satisfied that they are safe,”.