National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien is heading to Paris on Monday as head of a U.S. delegation to the 60th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Convention, the White House announced Sunday. His wife, Lo-Mari, is accompanying him on the lame-duck trip, which will double as “a holiday tour of the romantic Mediterranean and European capitals, including seeking a private tour of the Louvre despite it being closed because of coronavirus restrictions,” Axios reports.
Most Americans are barred from traveling to France or other European countries, and U.S. citizens already in Paris are supposed to leave their homes only for grocery shopping or work. O’Brien and his wife will also visit Tel Aviv, Rome, and London, Axios reports, and their holiday tour “is causing consternation among O’Brien’s hosts and questions about the need for his wife to tag along.” Most of the participants in the Paris event, including many heads of state representing their countries, will attend virtually due to COVID-19 concerns.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot told Axios that “while we don’t comment on spousal travel on specific trips, anytime Ambassador O’Brien has his wife on official trips, any associated costs for her travel are paid for by Ambassador O’Brien and there is no additional cost to taxpayers.” U.S. government employees abroad will have to shepherd the couple on their foreign travels, though, one overseas diplomat tells Axios.
The inspector general for the State Department reported last week that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had failed to receive written approval for six of the eight trips his wife, Susan, accompanied him on, at taxpayer expense, from April 2018 to April 2020, breaching internal rules for official travel of family members. Pompeo criticized the report, and acting Inspector General Matthew Kilmow told colleagues on Thursday he’s stepping down earlier than expected, CNN reports.
Kilmow is the department’s third inspector general this year; President Trump fired the Senate-confirmed one, Steve Linick, at Pompeo’s urging in May, when Linkick was investigating Pompeo’s potential misuse of government resources and several other instance of potential wrongdoing involving the Pompeos. Peter Weber