A large contingent of top aides will travel from the West Wing to the Middle East (and Europe) to flank Donald Trump on his first foreign trip as US president next week. The president's daughter and unpaid adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are among the band of administration advisers accompanying the American leader for major parts of the eight-day tour that kicks off Friday, Politico reported Wednesday. The report did no specify for which portions of the president's trip the Jewish power couple would be present. Trump has repeatedly spoken of his hope that his son-in-law would help broker a peace deal in the Middle East, exclaiming prior to taking office that Kushner "knows the region, knows the people, knows the players."
The president's trip includes state trips to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome before he attends back-to-back summits in Brussels and Sicily. Others administration members expected to take part in the delegation during unspecified times include White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, policy adviser Stephen Miller, US Press Secretary Sean Spicer, economic adviser Gary Cohn and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell.According to Politico, energy executive-turned-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was due to meet up with Trump for the tail-end of his trip in Brussels and Sicily. Staying behind in Washington during Trump's international excursion, are counselor Kellyanne Conway and communications director Michael Dubke, Politico cited White House official as saying. Trump was due to make the cross-continental voyage among reports of growing turmoil within the White House administration along with domestic controversies and flare-ups between international allies. Airing his frustrations on Twitter, Trump has lashed out at leaks to the news media from officials inside his administration. Confidants say a staff shake-up is possible, although major changes are unlikely before Trump's foreign trip.Meanwhile, White House officials and Republicans close to the administration say Trump, who campaigned on an "America First" slogan, wants to demonstrate leadership abroad on his visit with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Israel and the West Bank, the pope at the Vatican, NATO leaders in Brussels and G7 counterparts in Sicily.Trump faces fierce criticism over his sharing of sensitive national security information with Russian officials and his firing last week of FBI Director James Comey. Allegations that he previously asked Comey to end an investigation into his former national security adviser drew a new round of attacks on Tuesday.A Republican strategist close to the White House said Trump needed a strong trip to help put the past tumultuous 10 days behind him.However, the administration has faced tumult on the international stage with regard to Trump's visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories as a series of controversies emerged this week, including reports of a US official's remarks on the Western Wall and allegations that the US president shared classified Israeli intelligence information on ISIS with Russia. Reuters contributed to this report.
Jared Kushner flies to Iraq with top US general (credit: REUTERS)