President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have departed Washington for a weekend in Paris, where world leaders are gathering to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the end of World War I.
The trip comes as the White House looks to grapple with a new political reality of Democrats taking the House in Tuesday’s midterm elections and the fallout from the president’s sudden firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
While the president will hold meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday they do not anticipate the president scheduling any additional meetings with world leaders invited to Paris, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The president told reporters Wednesday that he would not be holding an extended meeting Putin before the G-20 summit later this month in South America, though said he won’t be surprised if the two interact during the leaders’ luncheon at the Elysee Palace on Sunday.
The primary purpose of the president’s visit, according to the administration official, will be attending ceremonies around the centennial commemoration of the end of World War I.
“This is a historic opportunity to honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our freedom in that struggle,” the official said.
But upon leaving Washington, the president seemed eager to renew focus on the controversies ignited over the past week, lashing out at reporters as they pressed him on stories like his firing of Sessions, the suspension of a CNN correspondent’s press pass, and the Florida Senate and gubernatorial races now both likely heading to recounts.
Once on board Air Force One, the president shot out a tweet threatening to send a team of lawyers to Florida to counter what he claimed were partisan efforts by Democratic lawyers to change the vote counts.
Trump also sought to parallel the controversy to Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, saying sarcastically, “Let’s blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!”