Trump Travels Abroad
Tuesday was the worst day of Trump's presidency, a senior White House official tells Politico, and White House staff is careening between reports of new scandals involving President Trump, Trump's tweets, and reports that many of them could lose their jobs in a big shakeup. But there is a possible break in the storm, as Trump and a lot of his advisers are headed out on an eight-day, five-nation trip starting Friday, with the first stops in Saudi Arabia and Israel.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will accompany Trump on the entire trip, and his entourage for major portions will reportedly include Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, strategist Stephen Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, his deputy Sarah Huckabee Sanders, policy adviser Stephen Miller, economic adviser Gary Cohn, deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton, longtime aide Hope Hicks, and, for the G7 summit, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Former President Barack Obama, by contrast, would typically travel with one senior aide, national security adviser, and his press secretary.
Trump's aides "often stick close to the president for fear of being out of the loop, or diminished in power, if they stray from his side," Politico notes, and this dynamic will continue overseas. But at the same time, hopes for an escape from the chaos of Washington are dimming as Trump's mood "has become sour and dark, and he has turned against most of his aides — even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — describing them in a fury as 'incompetent,'" two Trump advisers told The New York Times. Also:
Some of Mr. Trump's senior advisers fear leaving him alone in meetings with foreign leaders out of concern he might speak out of turn. Gen. McMaster, in particular, has tried to insert caveats or gentle corrections into conversations when he believes the president is straying off topic or onto boggy diplomatic ground. This has, at times, chafed the president, according to two officials with knowledge of the situation. Mr. Trump ... has complained that Gen. McMaster talks too much in meetings, and the president has referred to him as "a pain," according to one of the officials. [The New York Times]
If you throw in jet lag, different cable news channels, and spotty Twitter reception, it should be an interesting trip. There's also a chance that anything will be better than the status quo.