With turmoil enveloping his administration at home, President Donald Trump is heading abroad on a trip the White House hopes will shift focus away from domestic controversies.
Trump leaves for Saudi Arabia on Friday afternoon and will make stops next week in Israel, Belgium and Italy.
The trip was billed as a chance to visit places sacred to three of the world's major religions while creating face time with Arab, Israeli and European leaders.
But a political uproar in Washington over Trump's firing of former FBI director James Comey, allegations that he pressed Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the subsequent appointment of a special counsel to look into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election Trump's campaign threaten to overshadow his trip.
"We look forward to getting this whole situation behind us," the Republican president told a news conference at the White House on Thursday.