Donald Trump has departed Washington for his first foreign trip as President, leaving behind a scandal surrounding his surprise sacking of the FBI director which threatens to overshadow the eight-day tour.
Mr Trump flew out of the capital for a trip that White House aides said they hoped would trigger a “reset” after weeks of controversy and chaos.
Mr Trump was reportedly reluctant to leave for the trip, even telling one aide he felt it should be cut in half. But this was before he fired former FBI chief James Comey, allegedly released covert intelligence to Russia, and saw a special prosecutor appointed to investigate his campaign’s ties to Russia.
The trip is expected to give the President some reprieve from a gruelling news cycle – but no one expects it to be easy.
In preparation for the trip, Mr Trump held briefings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, national security adviser HR McMaster, deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner – several of whom will accompany him on the trip.
Sources told Reuters that Mr Trump’s briefing documents included his name in “as many paragraphs as we can, because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned”. Others told The New York Times they worried the President would be swayed by foreign leaders’ flattery, or erupt in off-script outbursts.
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Mr Trump will stop first in Saudi Arabia, marking his first night outside of the White House or a Trump-branded property since taking office.
Saudi diplomats reportedly wooed the President into visiting their country via a persuasive, picture-laden PowerPoint presentation. Caterers for state…