President Donald J. Trump gives a thumbs-up Friday, May 24, 2019, as he prepares to board Air Force One for his trip to Japan. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Maybe he’ll tell us about the UFOs.

If there was a sliver of a silver lining to the election of a vacuous, mendacious reality show star, conspiracy theorist and mediocre insult comic to the highest office in the land — someone with little respect for the presidency except as a mirror to his limitless vanity — this could be it, I said to myself sometime between Election Day and Inauguration Day.

Donald Trump was so unruly, so uncouth, so ill-prepared and so unconventional, maybe he would throw the windows open on the federal government’s most interesting secrets, from Roswell to the JFK assassination, something he also hinted at when he blamed Ted Cruz’s dad for having a hand in the killing. (Hillary Clinton had actually promised during the campaign to divulge more government information on extraterrestrial phenomena)

Of course, we all know which aliens Trump remains fixated upon, and they’re not from beyond the reaches of our solar system.

But maybe he should find his inner Fox Mulder. After all, with congressional impeachment rhetoric heating up after an unmistakable prodding from Special Counsel Robert Mueller Wednesday, this would be a good time to change the subject.

It seems that when our fighter pilots are not busying themselves drawing giant penises in the skies above us and our NATO allies, they have been running into unexplained aircraft, including right here off Virginia Beach, with alarming frequency. So much so, in fact, that the Navy is formalizing procedures for pilots to document encounters.

In an eye-brow raising report — though, speaking of conspiracies, it got less attention than one would think — that landed over Memorial Day Weekend, The New York Times chronicles the accounts of pilots who had close encounters with flying objects they can’t explain.

Lieutenants Ryan Graves and Danny Accoin, F/A-18 Super Hornet pilots, were flying out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, training for a deployment to the Persian Gulf, when they began running into the objects “almost daily” from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.

“We have helicopters that can hover,” Graves said. “We have aircraft that can fly at 30,000 feet and right at the surface.” But “combine all that in one vehicle of some type with no jet engine, no exhaust plume.”

Another pilot told Graves he “almost hit one of those things,” which looked like a “sphere encasing a cube,” over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach, per the Times story.

The aviators are also telling their stories in a History Channel series debuting Friday.

And in 2017, The Times also broke the story of the existence of a $22-million-a-year Pentagon UFO investigation program — a rounding error in the grand scheme of the Defense Department budget. Commercial pilots have also come forward to share stories of strange encounters.

The combined effect of these revelations seems to be moving the subject from the fringe to the mainstream fairly quickly.

But maybe Trump is more on the ball than we know.

He is, after all,  pushing for a Space Force, calling it national security priority.

“Adversaries, whether we get along with them or not, they’re up in space. And they’re doing it. And we’re doing it,” the president said. “And that’s going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation —and you could say offense but let’s just be nice about it and say the defense of our nation— is going to be.”

Actually, with that out-of-this-world syntax, are we sure Trump is really an earthling?

Maybe we should double check that birth certificate.

Or at least see a tax return.

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Robert Zullo
Robert has been winning and losing awards as a reporter and editor for 13 years at weekly and daily newspapers, beginning at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., where he was a staff writer and managing editor. He spent five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former waiter, armored car guard and appliance deliveryman, he is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact him at [email protected]