5 storylines to watch on Trump's first trip to Asia as president

It's the longest trip to the region by any U.S. president in the last 25 years.

— -- The White House has promised a vigorous schedule as President Donald Trump embarks on his first trip to Asia, in what will be the longest trip to the region by any U.S. president in the last 25 years, a trek which officials say demonstrates his “long-term commitment” to the region.

But even though Trump will be halfway around the world, he will undoubtedly be forced to respond to the latest developments in the Russia probe and the rollout of the new GOP tax bill.

Here’s a look at the storylines to watch on the trip:

North Korea takes center stage

It’s safe to say that the dark cloud hovering over every stop on Trump’s Asia visit is the nuclear standoff with North Korea. His trip will bring him face-to-face with both allies and adversaries in the region who have bristled at his freewheeling threats of nuclear annihilation of the country.

The president has said he will press for direct confrontation of Kim Jong Un’s aggressive behavior, but it will be a major test of whether he can formulate an approach differing from that of his predecessors that will encourage North Korea to improve its behavior and avoid the disastrous last resort of military conflict.

Trump's China balancing act

Duterte the dictator: Trump gets cozy with the Philippines’ strongman

"We are going to Vietnam and the Philippines, which is a strategically important location where the previous administration was not exactly welcome as you remember," Trump said. Duterte previously referred to President Barack Obama as a "son of a whore" who should "go to hell."

Russia pressure reaches new heights

Chief of staff John Kelly has most recently described the president as “very distracted” by the probe and previous trips abroad have hardly brought any respite from developments the president has been forced to respond to amid his meetings with world leaders.

Trump sends message to Asia trade partners, leaving key economic advisers at home to push tax reform