Friday, November 17, 2017
Politics

Foreign trip comes at crucial time, but Trump is a reluctant traveler

RECOMMENDED READING


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump leaves today for a nine-day, five-city foreign excursion, his first trip outside of the United States as the country's leader and top diplomat.

He doesn't really want to go.

In recent days, Trump has groused to several friends that he is not looking forward to leaving his new White House cocoon for high-profile, high-pressure meetings with dozens of world leaders in unfamiliar settings.

At one point, he barked at an aide that he thought his first foray abroad should be only about half as long. He will have to abandon his well-known preference for sleeping in his own bed (or in one at the hotels or golf resorts he owns) as he hops between Saudi Arabia, Israel, Belgium, Italy and the Vatican — all places without a Trump-branded property.

But the trip comes at a critical moment for Trump's young presidency. It is his first opportunity to deliver specifics about his "America First" worldview to a global audience that has watched his initial, chaotic months in the White House with a mix of amusement, befuddlement and alarm.

The president's packed schedule is filled with opportunities for Trump to slip up, publicly or privately: back-to-back discussions with the leaders of other nations, many of whom are veteran negotiators well versed in issues they care deeply about.

By contrast, it could also serve as a much-needed change of subject for a president besieged at home with an agenda frozen by scandal.

"I'll meet scores of leaders," Trump told Coast Guard cadets Wednesday as he spoke at their commencement. He pledged that during his global travels he will "strengthen old friendships and will seek new partners."

Planning for the foreign trip has proceeded haltingly, with Trump resisting some of the pageantry that is usually a hallmark of a president's travels. A visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, was cut short at his request.

Preparation — a standard part of the weeks before a big foreign trip — also has been hit-or-miss in recent days.

As allegations of obstruction of justice and giving secrets to Russia consumed Trump's administration, aides sought to focus the president's fleeting attention on the vital foreign policy issues he will confront and the nuts-and-bolts difficulty of taking the White House around the globe.

Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, led briefings, including one on European leaders, last week in the Oval Office. The president conferred with the defense secretary about the Middle East and discussed his Saudi Arabia meetings with his secretary of state. Among the touchy issues in Israel: whether to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, something the president has decided not to announce during the trip.

But even as he sat with briefing books and stacks of news clippings about global events, Trump has generally just skimmed through, according to several people familiar with his preparations told the New York Times. Instead, he has focused on the chaos swirling around his White House.

Comments
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Pla...
Updated: 2 hours ago

10,000 more FBI records unsealed from JFK assassination files

DALLAS — Yet again, the National Archives released a trove of records from the Kennedy assassination files on a Friday afternoon, another strange stream of loose ends, dead ends and tangents with little apparent connection to the assassination of the...
Updated: 3 hours ago
William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

Jose Vazquez, Democratic nominee in the Dec. 19 state House District 58 special election, doesn’t seem like a criminal. He’s 43, divorced with six children, and has worked as a security guard and in auto recycling. He was a high-level political field...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response. Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations again...
Published: 11/17/17
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y. — Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t ...
Published: 11/17/17
Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., faced swift condemnation and bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation Thursday after he was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a broadcaster and model while traveling overseas in 2006.The allegations ag...
Published: 11/16/17
Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Roy Moore won a reprieve in his struggle to survive as a U.S. Senate candidate Thursday when the Alabama Republican Party affirmed it would continue backing him despite allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers."Judge Moore ...
Published: 11/16/17