President Donald Trump was initially hesitant about leaving for an economic forum in Davos as his Senate trial gets underway in Washington, according to multiple people. But aides assured him it was a quick trip and they would keep him updated as he shuttles between meetings with world leaders in Switzerland.
Trump himself wasn’t set on making the trip until late last week, ultimately siding with aides who said his appearances in Switzerland would prove a worthwhile rebuttal of the impeachment proceedings.
There was an internal debate over the wisdom of leaving the country as the impeachment trial started, according to officials. Some of Trump’s aides believed the trip was unnecessary and that he would be better positioned to respond if he remained in Washington.
But others said a turn on the world stage, with a particular focus on a strong American economy, would allow Trump to cast himself as an effective leader that Democrats are unfairly targeting.
Trump is scheduled to be back at his hotel by 2:00 p.m. ET — after the debate over rules and procedures will have begun.
“He has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters.
As is now common on Trump’s foreign trips, aides have ensured his hotel room is equipped with a TiVo-like device that allows him to watch Fox News from abroad. He will also be equipped with his most powerful response tool: a phone to call his allies and Twitter to broadcast his thoughts in real-time.
Most of the White House counsel’s office staff will be working out of the vice president’s office on Capitol Hill today as the fight over the trial rules is underway, an official says, while a rapid response team will be back at the White House managing the communications aspect. Trump’s top impeachment lawyers, Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, will be on the Hill, of course, though it’s still unclear if the rest of the public-facing attorneys such as Ken Starr will be there.
Several House Republicans who were named to the President’s impeachment team last night are expected to work out of the White House over the next several days. White House officials believe they’re the most familiar with the facts of the case so they want them on hand.