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Trump’s first foreign trip has high stakes at each stop

(AP) – President Donald Trump’s maiden international trip, a five-stop marathon across the Middle East and Europe, has long loomed as a crucial first test abroad for the chaos-courting president.

That was before he fired his FBI director – and the chain reaction of scandal that followed.

Now, with the eyes of the world upon him, the president will embark on his trip carrying the baggage of dire troubles at home.

As he tries to calm allies worried about his “America First” message, he’ll be followed by fallout from his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Trump’s itinerary begins Saturday in Saudi Arabia.

Trump is denying that his campaign collaborated with Russia or that he tried to kill an FBI probe of the issue.

He says that even his “enemies” recognize his innocence, and he’s declaring himself the most unfairly hounded president in history.

Trump spoke on Thursday at the White House as the Justice Department official who appointed a special counsel to independently lead a Trump-Russia investigation briefed the entire Senate in private at the Capitol.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was returning to the Capitol on Friday for another closed-door session, this time with all members of the House.

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