Goodbye Winter White House. Hello Desert White House.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to depart Friday on an 11-day, five-country tour that comes at a moment of major turmoil in his administration – and, as usual, he’ll be joined by a large traveling band of his top aides, who often stick close to the president for fear of being out of the loop, or diminished in power, if they stray from his side.
Son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka Trump, chief strategist Steve Bannon, chief of staff Reince Priebus, economic adviser Gary Cohn, deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, policy adviser Stephen Miller, press secretary Sean Spicer will all be along for major chunks of the trip, according to multiple White House officials. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will also be along for the entirety of the trip.
Also among those traveling with the president: his trusted aide Hope Hicks, deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders and National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton.
It’s an international extension of a dynamic that has been in place since Trump took office, with aides staying in close physical proximity to a president who can often be influenced by the most recent person he’s spoken with. The discordant factions of his administration are planning to take their operation on the road, where discussions of how to potentially restructure the West Wing are likely to continue.
Counselor Kellyanne Conway and communications director Michael Dubke will be staying behind in Washington, White House officials told POLITICO.
Trump’s first foreign trip could offer the president an opportunity to turn around the narrative of a presidency in chaos, in the wake of his abrupt firing of FBI director James Comey and reports that he shared classified intelligence with Russia’s foreign minister.
The first two stops of his trip are Saudi Arabia and Israel, where Trump is extremely popular and expected to receive a warm greeting.
Inside the White House, the daily trip planning meeting, which is chaired by Kushner, is typically attended by Powell, McMaster and Joe Hagin, the White House chief of staff for operations, as well as NSC officials, an administration source said. Those meetings have continued throughout the past week.