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Travel Report #11
Annie Karni • POLITICO
May 22, 2017: 05:06 PM


POTUS and FLOTUS arrived at the plaza in front of the Western Wall at 4:19 p.m., after finishing a closed-press tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, accompanied by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

At the Wall, the holiest prayer site in Judaism, POTUS donned a black yarmulke. He and FLOTUS were accompanied by Ivanka and Jared, and greeted by the Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovich, and another rabbi, whose ID was not totally clear (it is likely the director general of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai Eliav, but not confirmed). Rabinovich and the other rabbi explained to Trump the history of the Wall, and it's importance in Judaism, according to the White House (we couldn't hear).

The Trump group then divided by gender. On the men's side of the Wall, we spotted Gary Cohn taking pictures with his phone, David Friedman, Jason Greenblatt, and Sean Spicer.

On the women's side, Hope Hicks and Dina Powell sat in two rows of plastic chairs, set at the back end of the plaza.

On the men's side, only Trump and Kushner approached the Wall, accompanied by the two rabbis. The rest sat in the plastic chairs.

As female poolers, Carol and I were technically on the female side of the Wall, separated from the male press pool by a small, low barrier that we could look over. We couldn't hear anything of what was happening, but the rabbis spoke quietly to Trump as they approached the Wall.

At 4:23 p.m., Trump went up to the wall alone -- even Kushner hung back. Trump touched the Wall with his right hand and stared straight ahead, swaying back and forth slightly. After a long, reflective pause in that position, he stuck his note into a crack in the wall (Spicer said he would get back to us about what the note said). Trump then took a deep sigh, turned toward the cameras and media, and seemed to mouth "thank you" at the press riser. He then was rejoined by the rabbis, who presented him with an oversized, gold-leafed book. We are trying to find out the significance of the book.

Kushner hung back, out of the photo-op.

After the photo, Trump signed another book, and the group left just after 4:25 p.m.

And here's a feed from Carol, who watched the woman's side:

Mrs. Trump walked with three women and Ivanka Trump. One of the women was Rabbi Rabinovich's wife, Yael. Mrs. Trump was listening to one of the women, who appeared to be telling her about the wall. They walked - both Mrs. Trump and Ms. Trump in very high heels - to the book placed on the podium in front of the women's side of the wall.

Mrs. Trump listened as she walked and the woman was telling her things your pooler could only hear snippets like "amazing" and 'for your family and for the world."

After a few minutes standing and listening, Mrs. Trump approached the wall. She placed a folded up piece of paper in a crack (pool has asked for info about what it said), and then she placed her hand on the wall, standing for a few moments.

Ivanka Trump then approached the wall. Your pooler did not see her place a paper in it. She stood with her hand on the wall, appearing to pray. She stood much longer than Mrs. Trump. The women left after that. Mrs. Trump joined her husband where they had separated earlier.

We are now holding in a beautiful room at the King David hotel, with a balcony overlooking the old city.



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