U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has canceled his travel to Peru as part of a U.S. delegation attending the Summit of the Americas, his spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.
Instead, Lighthizer will send his deputy C.J. Mahoney to represent USTR at the summit, spokeswoman Emily Davis said. She said the travel was altered “due to a change in Ambassador Lighthizer’s schedule,” without elaborating on what his new plans were.
Lighthizer's switch comes after President Donald Trump also dropped plans to attend the summit in Peru. Trump canceled his trip on Tuesday to instead stay in Washington and monitor the situation in Syria, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Vice President Mike Pence will go in the president’s place, and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump — who have kept a relatively low profile amid intensifying White House drama — will also attend the summit in Peru.
Lighthizer’s absence could affect NAFTA ministerial-level meetings expected to take place on the sidelines of the summit with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo. It‘s unclear if Mahoney, who has responsibility over Western Hemisphere trade issues, will take Lighthizer’s place in those meetings.
Lighthizer was scheduled to depart for Peru on Wednesday with a delegation including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan to attend a meeting of CEOs scheduled before the April 13-14 summit.