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Trump cancels first foreign trip to Latin America to work on Syria response

The announcement comes a day after the FBI raided the home and office of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
by Vivian Salama /

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has canceled his first official visit to Latin America as his administration evaluates the ongoing crisis in Syria, the White House said Tuesday.

"The president will remain in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

The president was scheduled to depart to Lima, Peru, to attend the Summit of the Americas this week, followed by a stop in Bogota, Colombia. But on Monday, Trump said that his administration was investigating a new suspected chemical attack in Syria and that he would be making "major decisions in the next 24 to 48 hours."

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to South America in his place.

In addition, Defense Secretary James Mattis has altered his travel plans and will no longer be heading to Nevada and San Francisco this weekend, a U.S. official said. He will still travel to New York on Thursday and Friday to take part in a U.S. Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation dinner.

Syrian opposition activists and aid groups said over the weekend that dozens of people had died in the suspected chemical weapons attack on the city of Douma, and that aid groups are blocked off from accessing the afflicted area. Last year, Trump said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria "crosses a lot of lines for me."

His administration later launched strikes on a Syrian airfield to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that chemical weapons would not be tolerated.

Trump's overseas trip would have also coincided with a renewed personal crisis at home. On Monday, the FBI raided the New York home and office of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, seeking information about a $130,000 payment the attorney made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

The search warrants were sought and executed by FBI agents and federal prosecutors in New York in coordination with special counsel Robert Mueller's team after an initial referral from Mueller's office.

Trump lashed out on Monday, calling the search "an attack on our country."

He also tweeted twice on Tuesday morning, Monday's events clearly weighing on his mind.

Trump wrote, "Attorney–client privilege is dead!" and followed it with a second tweet: "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!"

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