The Atlantic

Has the Mueller Probe Hamstrung Trump's Foreign Policy?

Nixon and Clinton managed to get a great deal done of overseas while facing special prosecutors at home, but Trump has more weaknesses than they did.
Source: Manan Vatsyayana / Reuters

President Trump returned from his 12-day trip to Asia Tuesday night, with few major gaffes to answer for but few accomplishments to show for it, either—a fact he underscored with a strange “what I did on my fall vacation” speech Wednesday that failed to produce the “major” announcement he’d promised.

Trump headed out on his trip shortly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first indictments and guilty plea, and the administration expressed some concern about that. “He worries about his ability to negotiate with various entities and how much he’s hamstrung by this,” a senior White House official told CNN, adding that Trump felt he’d be in a better position once the investigation was resolved.

Unfortunately for Trump, that could be months or years down the line. How will that affect his ability to conduct foreign policy? The record of previous presidents facing probes like Mueller’s shows that in fact they have turned to global affairs as a forum where they can make a difference and get things done even as domestic politics becomes

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic5 min readPolitics
‘News From Here Doesn’t Go Out’: Kashmir Simmers Under Lockdown
There have been daily protests since August 5, when the Indian government revoked the region’s special status.
The Atlantic2 min readPolitics
The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Stacey’s Nom?
Stacey Abrams hinted this week that she’d be open to being vice president. Plus: Israel reversed course, but Representative Rashida Tlaib won’t go.
The Atlantic9 min readSociety
America Moved On From Its Gay-Rights Moment—And Left a Legal Mess Behind
Half a decade after the Supreme Court’s same-sex-marriage decision, the justices and Congress are still trying to figure out what federal law should say about LGBTQ rights.