White House sees wild-card nature as asset in Trump’s first foreign trip

White House officials, in describing the thinking behind the trip, offered a fascinating glimpse into how they see Trump conducting foreign policy largely through building personal relationships and conducting personal diplomacy, and as someone who is ideologically flexible, and not doctrinaire, and willing to adjust plans as the facts change. They also said they have come to see his perceived unpredictability on foreign policies as being an asset that keeps allies and foes alike slightly uncertain.

“Good if they are nervous,” one official described the advice he was given after Trump was elected about countries not knowing what Trump’s foreign policy positions would be.

Trump is expected to depart May 19 for Saudi Arabia, then travel to Israel and then to Rome, where he will meet with Pope Francis, before traveling, as previously announced, to attend a NATO summit in Brussels and then a G-7 leaders meeting in Sicily, Italy, the White House said.

“He chose those three places to unify everyone and the world against intolerance, and focus on how we can unite … against radicalism,” a senior administration official, speaking not for attribution, told foreign affairs reporters and columnists at a White House background briefing May 4.

“The three faiths [can] work together,” a second senior administration official said. “At the core [of those faiths] is a belief in tolerance.”