As President Donald Trump prepares to take off on his first trip overseas as president, former President Obama’s officials are already setting the narrative of failure.
“Trump is substantively unprepared for high-stakes, 9-day foreign trip, but isn’t bringing ANY actual NSC experts (SDs or Ds) on AF1 to brief,” Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant to President Obama, wrote on Twitter.
“No way. Seriously?” Susan Rice, Obama’s former national security adviser, snarked back.
But the White House suggests that this kind of chatter is idle speculation from uninformed former aides out of power.
“There will be a lot of NSC staff traveling with the president,” a White House official told Breitbart News, responding to the skeptics. Advance staff travels to and from the sites ahead of the president, according to the White House, and several officials will be available to meet with the president.
Trump’s senior national security council adviser, Michael Anton, will be traveling with the president and is familiar with the logistics of foreign travel after experiencing trips abroad with former President George W. Bush.
But Trump does face a steep challenge as figures of the political establishment demand rigorous diplomatic continuity. The media will also be watching closely, looking for any gaffe or slip-up to suit their blaring narrative that Trump is unfit for office.
Daniel Shapiro, Obama’s former ambassador to Israel, wrote a lengthy essay warning of all of the things that could go wrong with Trump’s decision to visit Israel in his first foreign trip as president.
“The preparations take weeks and involve hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Every item on the schedule is intricately planned,” he wrote for Foreign Policy magazine. “Advance staff must take into account demands of the host governments and cultural sensitivities, along with logistical and security constraints. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
Even Obama former social secretary Deesha Dyer weighed in.
“As someone who traveled with #44 (including to Israel), I don’t understand the number of logistic flubs,” she wrote on Twitter, sharing an article reporting that Trump decided not to visit Masada in Israel. “Get a better advance team homie.”
Obama didn’t visit Israel until 2013, well after his re-election campaign, and experienced a fraught relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. The Trump White House was pleased with Netanyahu’s visit to the White House in February, in which he said there was “no greater supporter of the Jewish people” than President Trump. Trump will likely return the favor, praising Netanyahu for his tough leadership.
Trump is also keen on experiencing spontaneous moments and surprises, as the world is watching him closely. Obama spent his trips abroad sticking to the script, appearing cooly detached in his meetings with world leaders and saving his most poignant moments for grand speeches.