For Trump's two main White House policy advisors (aside from Goldman Sachs, of course) chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon, the confusion over the "orb" event may have been too great.
For clarification, this is not a Satanic ritual. pic.twitter.com/CccP39fqN4— The Church Of Satan (@ChurchofSatan) May 22, 2017
That, or perhaps there was another fallout between Trump and his two key advisors.
Whatever the reason, according to CNN, both Priebus and Bannon returned to Washington after just the first leg of Trump's global tour, when the President concluded his visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
"He was planning to come for the first stop and then head back for the budget roll out," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said about the return. To avoid the perception of another breakdown in relations between Trump and the two men, White House officials told CNN that Bannon's departure was also planned. A Trump adviser said Priebus wanted time to get ready for Trump's return to the U.S.
To be sure, there is a lot of work to be done ahead of Trump's return next weekend: the president is facing a series of growing controversies at home including the possible hiring of outside legal counsel in the Russia probe, the selection of a new FBI director, and the effort to pivot back to the President's domestic agenda.
Furthermore, in the run-up to the trip, analysts noted it would be odd for the chief of staff to spend so many days traveling with the President. "I will say, I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long," said Tamara Wittes, senior fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, quoted by CNN.
"The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal -- whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency -- goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence, and also to be that communications link between that principal who's on the plane and the folks back home."
To make a favorable impression on the Saudi king, Trump brought most of his advisers along on the trip, including Ivanka, Jared Kushner and his spokespeople. Only Mike Pence remained in the US, as did Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway.