UPDATED: Mike Pence Cancels New Hampshire Trip to Return to D.C., Reason Unclear
See below for updates to this story.
Late Tuesday morning, Air Force 2 altered its flight path, returning Vice President Mike Pence to Washington, D.C. and taking him away from his scheduled meeting in Salem, New Hampshire. Rumors swirl as to the reason for this sudden change, but sources have said it does not involve Pence's health.
"Crowd leaving the Granite Recovery Center in Salem, NH where [Pence] was supposed to participate in a round table and speak to audience of 200. Just told Air Force 2 was turned around due to an emergency and the Vice President is now headed back to DC," NBC 10's Alison King tweeted shortly after 11 a.m. Eastern.
King added that she was "just told it is not an 'emergency' (1st word used) that the [vice president] is sent back to DC. Now being told it is a 'diversion.'. No explanation yet of what that means."
Pence's press secretary, Alyssa Farah, announced that there is "no cause for alarm" regarding the sudden scheduling change.
"Something came up that required the [vice president] to remain in Washington, DC. It’s no cause for alarm. He looks forward to rescheduling the trip to New Hampshire very soon," Farah tweeted.
PBS White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor shared an official denial that the change had anything to do with the health of the president or vice president.
"A senior administration official says: 'There is no medical issue with the VP and the president,'" Alcindor tweeted.
The repeated insistence that this is not an emergency and does not involve health problems will likely put Americans on edge.
Steve Herman, White House bureau chief for Voice of America News, confirmed that Pence was in the White House and reported that it remains "unclear" whether or not he is meeting with the president.
PJ Media asked Farah for some explanation, a vague description of the "something" requiring Pence to return to D.C. This story will be updated as news develops.
Update 12:33 p.m.:
In an event that may be related, Russian President Vladimir Putin just cancelled his plans for today, and the Kremlin says Putin will be meeting with his defense minister.
Unconfirmed reports also suggest that the European Union's Commission Security Counsel has been called for a meeting.
Update 12:55 p.m.:
Putin's change of plans may not be related. The Russian defense ministry reported that a fire aboard a Russian submarine killed 14 crew. Putin's rush to meet with the defense minister may have more to do with that than with any American connection.
Update 1:10 p.m.:
Axios's Alayna Treene reported an official statement via Twitter. "The official also said it has nothing to do with Putin's meeting w/ Russia's defense minister," she wrote.
There is an outside chance the schedule shift might have something to do with New Hampshire's Pease Air National Guard Base going on lockdown at about 11:22 a.m. Possible shots were reportedly heard on the base, and the incident is being treated as an active shooter scenario.
The base is a 39-minute drive away from Salem.
Update 1:17 p.m.:
Now officials are saying Pence never left Washington, D.C.
"The [Vice President] never left Washington, DC. There was no 'emergency callback.' Something came up that required the VP to stay in DC. We’ll reschedule NH shortly," Farah tweeted.
If Pence never left D.C., where did the original story come from? If he did leave, why would officials try to cover that up?
Update 1:22 p.m.:
Reports are saying the Pease shooter scare has nothing to do with Pence's travel plans.
Update 1:41 p.m.
In remarks to Reuters, Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, also said the plane never left.
“The vice president was called back to the White House but there’s no cause for alarm and we’ll reschedule the trip soon,” Short said.
Short said Pence’s plane never actually left Washington.
Update 3:24 p.m.:
Bloomberg White House Reporter Alyza Sebenius brought some clarity to the story.
"Soon after [Pence] boarded a plane at [Joint Base Andrews] -- where he was scheduled to depart for an event at a drug rehabilitation facility in NH--he got back off & returned to the WH. "The plane never took off. It was never diverted. It was never turned back around," said [Marc Short]."
An anonymous official told the Associated Press that the schedule change has nothing to do with national security matters.
Bloomberg Senior White House Reporter Jennifer Jacobs quoted Short as promising more information on the schedule change, but not for some time.
"Press: Can you tell us what what happened? Why cancel New Hampshire trip? Marc Short, who was with Pence when VP was called back to WH: 'There will be more later.' Press: When later? Marc Short: 'Weeks from now,'" she tweeted.
The Trump administration may be right to withhold this information from the American people, but its decision to do so will only raise questions and concerns.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.