It's no secret that President Donald Trump has been quiet during his first international trip, leaving many of us back home wondering what's up. His Twitter has been fairly dormant, and his usually active press secretary Sean Spicer hasn't held a single press conference since the president jetted off from the White House more than a week ago.
Now, it seems as if Spicer may be just as in the dark as the rest of us.
On Wednesday, Trump attended a meeting with the European Union at their new headquarters in Brussels. But unlike the rest of the foreign dignitaries, who came with their press corps in tow, Trump was without any of his media team. Where was Spicer, you ask? Sitting at a cafe outside the EU, with deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Sanders later explained that the responsibility of the meeting had been passed to the National Security Council's press team. But the EU meeting wasn't the first time during the foreign tour that Spicer found himself slighted.
During Trump's meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Spicer was noticeably absent. A White House official told CNN that Spicer, a practicing Catholic, was hoping to meet the Pope, and was "fuming" when he was left off the list of those who would be joining Trump at his audience. Even more upsetting, the official said, those who were invited were fellow advisors, like the president's daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law-turned-advisor Jared Kushner, his communications advisor Hope Hicks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and National Security advisor H.R. McMaster. Even Trump's former bodyguard and his social media advisor bypassed Spicer on the invite list.
This all comes amid news that Spicer might be on the outs.
Team Trump's radio silence abroad is unusual for a president's first foreign trip. Ari Fleischer, the press secretary for George W. Bush's White House, said that during his time, the press team didn't go a single foreign trip without holding a conference.
“It’s highly unusual for a president, but it’s highly disciplined for Donald Trump,” he said. “Trump needed a break from a domestic downward spiral he was in when he left the United States and the substance of this trip and the good reception he’s receiving is giving him that break,” he added. “If he would have held press conferences, he would have competed against the messages he wanted to send.”
While Spicer and the team of U.S. journalists has been left out of press conferences, however, that doesn't mean things aren't happening. During Trump's stop in Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Tillerson held a conference with multiple Saudi news organizations -- without U.S. journalists present.
U.S. media was left out again during Trump's arrival and formal introduction to the leaders of the European Union.