President Donald Trump has canceled a planned trip to the Summit of the Americas in Peru, the White House announced Tuesday, citing a need to remain in the United States to monitor the U.S. response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria.
Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the gathering instead, according to a statement by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The cancellation comes during an unusually chaotic period of Trump’s presidency, including an FBI raid Monday on the Manhattan office, home and hotel room of Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer. Trump characterized the raid as a “witch hunt” during an appearance before reporters Monday and again Tuesday morning on Twitter.
“The president will remain in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world,” Sanders said Tuesday.
The three-day trip, set to begin Friday, would have been Trump’s first visit to Latin America since taking office. After traveling to Peru for the gathering of Western hemisphere heads of state, Trump planned to go to Colombia to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos.
Trump vowed Monday that the United States would take swift action in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria, which has been blamed for the deaths of at least 49 people in the opposition-held town of Douma, outside the Syrian capital Damascus.
“It was an atrocious attack. It was horrible,” Trump said at the start of a Cabinet meeting that was one of several White House gatherings Monday where possible military action was discussed.
Options include the sort of largely symbolic airstrike Trump ordered a year ago in response to a similar chemical attack blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or a wider and riskier assault. Trump oversaw that response from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · John Wagner, Philip Rucker, Anne Gearan