Trump Leaves For Asia As Tax Reform And Russia Probe Heat Up At Home

President Trump will depart Friday for the longest overseas trip of his presidency under a cloud of controversy resulting from the indictment this week of two former campaign aides and the guilty plea of a third.

The trip, like others before it, could provide a welcome respite for Republicans and administration officials from the chaos of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to sway public opinion during the 2016 election. But it could also amplify any lingering contradictions in the administration’s North Korea strategy and deny him the chance to claim credit for any progress that occurs in his absence on the tax reform bill that House Republicans rolled out just one day before his departure.

"Obviously, it's never a good thing when campaign operatives are indicted, but it's not a deathblow, and obviously he is leaving behind a mixed bag of good news and what could be bad news for the White House," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

"I think this is a situation where he can potentially get beyond his base, because something such as trade and military interests is something that really folks in both parties want to see," O'Connell said. "He's doing what are perceived, image-wise, very presidential things."

O'Connell said Trump's decision to leave Cohn and Mnuchin behind could ensure the White House maintains control of the tax reform debate even with the president thousands of miles away.

"He's making sure that his people are there in case they have to push back on something," O'Connell said. "He can claim credit because he's still driving the bus on this the entire time. The reason why we had the delay was because they wanted to make sure that they meshed with the president's wishes as much as possible."

Read more from Sarah Westwood at the Washington Examiner

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