Given his current political fortunes, if President Donald Trump’s crucial first foreign trip passes off without a disaster, it will be considered a success.
The President embarks on a journey Friday to Saudi Arabia, Israel and global summits in Italy and Belgium, after one of the most tumultuous and damaging weeks any President has had to endure.
The appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether there was any collusion between Trump aides and the Kremlin’s election hacking effort capped a stunning rush of events unleashed by the President’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, who declined Trump’s request to shield former national security adviser Michael Flynn in the Russia probe, The New York Times first reported and CNN confirmed.
It was a week that eventually could put Trump’s entire presidency in jeopardy and has left his White House dispirited, confused and at odds with itself.
Foreign trips, with their long flights, cumulative jet lag, high stakes and confined conditions can easily exacerbate tensions within White House teams, and the Trump camp is the most divided and acrimony-riddled West Wing in recent memory.
In fact, for some senior officials who have lost the President’s confidence, the tour may be a final chance to save their jobs.
“It’s kind of do-or-die,” said one official, referring both to the staff and stakes for the President.
As a result, Trump will head into his trip, an ambitious first stride across the global stage, pursued by a political maelstrom at home and facing questions from foreign leaders about the viability of his government.