This column provides a daily update on key presidential actions as well as comments, whether spoken aloud or on Twitter, by President Trump. Like the stock market, the deadline for Trump Today action is 4 p.m. Eastern time, even as we acknowledge that substantive news can and does occur after hours.
President Donald Trump departed for his first foreign trip as president on Friday, leaving for the Middle East and Europe shortly before a pair of stories were published that drew fresh attention to the controversy surrounding possible connections between his campaign and Russian officials.
Trump also met with his budget director ahead of the release of the administration’s budget proposal next week.
MEETING WITH MULVANEY AHEAD OF BUDGET ROLLOUT
Trump’s sole White House meeting on Friday was with his budget director Mick Mulvaney, ahead of the planned release next week of his fiscal 2018 budget plan. The Wall Street Journal reported Trump will propose the U.S. can balance the federal budget over a decade with cuts to safety-net programs, combined with an overhaul of taxes and regulations that speeds up economic growth. The budget is due to be released Tuesday.
Trump’s tax-and-spending plan will land as the president is visiting the Middle East and Europe, and as Washington remains embroiled in controversies including the appointment of a special counsel to probe ties between Russian officials and Trump’s campaign. The political drama has contributed to at least one cut in expectations for the size of a tax package.
Read: Goldman slashes tax-cut expectation as Trump drama rages.
Also read: Washington ‘dysfunction’ won’t stop Fed from hiking interest rates in June.
TRUMP DEPARTS FOR FIRST ‘BIG FOREIGN TRIP’ AS PRESIDENT
Trump left Friday afternoon for his first overseas trip as president, with stops planned in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Belgium and Sicily. In a tweet, the president appeared eager to get going, saying he was “getting ready for [his] big foreign trip” and that he would be “strongly protecting American interests.”
Getting ready for my big foreign trip. Will be strongly protecting American interests - that's what I like to do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2017
There is ample potential for friction on the trip, such as at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Brussels, Belgium. Trump has accused NATO leaders of not paying their fair share for defense. In Sicily, the president will meet leaders of the Group of 7 nations, and his nationalist leanings may ruffle feathers at that summit.
Trump will deliver a speech about Islam in Saudi Arabia, even as his administration tries to put in place a travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries. He will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of reports Israel provided intelligence Trump shared with Russian officials. And at the Vatican, Trump will meet with Pope Francis, whom he criticized during the presidential campaign.
Also read: Kushner shepherded weapons deals to Saudis.
Shortly after Trump departed, the Washington Post reported a White House official has been identified as a person of interest in the investigation into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russian officials. A separate report in the New York Times said Trump had called former FBI Director James Comey a “nut job” after firing him.
Read: White House official probed over Russia and president called Comey ‘nut job,’ reports say.