President Donald Trump’s White House was caught completely unprepared for Saturday’s false alarm about a missile attack on Hawaii, said Politico.
The news about the potential attack “sent White House aides scrambling” as they frantically called federal agencies trying to find out what to do and how to respond, raising serious questions about their preparedness for an actual attack — nearly a year into Trump’s presidency.
“President Donald Trump’s Cabinet has yet to test formal plans for how to respond to a domestic missile attack, according to a senior administration official,” wrote Politico’s Eliana Johnson. “John Kelly, while serving as Secretary of Homeland Security through last July, planned to conduct the exercise. But he left his post to become White House chief of staff before it was conducted, and acting secretary Elaine Duke never carried it out.”
Lower-level officials took part in an exercise in December, but as of Saturday no “principal” Cabinet secretaries have trained for this type of emergency.
“The U.S. government hasn’t tested these plans in 30 years,” said the senior administration official to Politico. “All the fresh faces sitting around the table in the situation room have little idea what their roles would be in this scenario. The bottom line is that without a principals level exercise we shouldn’t have any confidence that the Cabinet would know what to do in an attack scenario.”
Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida when the alert was sounded. The presidential motorcade pulled away from the golf course, said pool reporters, but the White House made no official response for hours.
No military information indicated that a genuine threat existed, the White House insider said, so no military mobilization was undertaken to protect the president.