President Donald Trump has scrapped a planned trip to South America, set to begin Friday, to remain in the United States and “oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world,” the White House said on Tuesday.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Vice President Mike Pence would travel instead to the Summit of the Americas in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
Trump had also been scheduled to visit Colombia for talks with President Juan Manuel Santos. A person familiar with the planning said those events would be canceled outright, without Pence as a place-filler.
The decision to cancel the trip – which comes as Trump boils in anger over the FBI raid of his personal attorney’s office and hotel room, a move he derided as a “disgraceful situation” – was made on Monday evening, the person said.
Trump has been mulling a response to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria over the weekend with military leaders and foreign counterparts. He has signaled a decision would come within days.
Any response is likely to be coordinated with European allies, principally French President Emmanuel Macron, with whom Trump has spoken twice since the attack occurred.
Last year, Trump ordered strikes on a Syrian airfield in response to another chemical weapons attack, though that assault lasted only a matter of hours. It’s not clear if his decision to cancel his trip to South America on Friday is a reflection of the administration’s plans on timing any possible response.
The trip was set to have been Trump’s first visit to South America as President. He was expected to meet fierce resistance to his hardline immigration stances from the assembled leaders.
Officials said Trump had been viewing the trip unenthusiastically, though he’d been advised that his presence at the summit would provide an important symbol of American commitment to the region.
Even as Trump has been weighing a US response to the chemical attack, he’s remained enraged at the Cohen raid. He railed against the developments during a meeting with senior military leaders on Monday evening.
Aides have said the President remains preoccupied with the broader Russia investigation, and has vented in private about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for allowing Robert Mueller’s probe to proceed.