Washington CNN —  

President Donald Trump, a political impresario and disrupter, is never happier than when holding the world in thrall. But the next 11 days – when he is expected to enlist a new Supreme Court pick, the British Queen and the Russian President as supporting actors in his melodrama – could be extreme even by his standards.

A heady sequence of high-profile events, summits and photo-ops at home and abroad will position Trump as a dominant figure in global politics whose wrecking ball leadership style could be felt years after he has left office.

By mid-July, America and the world may not feel quite the same.

Trump’s spin in the spotlight begins Thursday with a four-day countdown to his unveiling of a Supreme Court pick who is likely to enshrine a conservative majority on the nation’s highest bench for decades into the future.

After basking in the certain accolades of his conservative base, Trump will turn his eyes to the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, which is shaping up as one of the most pivotal meetings in the alliance’s history.

From there, Trump will head to Britain for his long-delayed visit, which is likely to include an eye-catching photo-op with Queen Elizabeth II that will match perhaps the world’s ultimate symbol of duty, continuity and convention with the most unpredictable, protocol-busting US leader in history.

At the end of Trump’s barnstorming 11 days comes his summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Finland, an encounter that will unleash new speculation about his baffling relationship with the Kremlin strongman and – depending on how things go at NATO – could cast new clouds over the destiny of West.

Gorsuch 2.0

The President’s first task is to choreograph a rollout for the replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, an opening that represents a priceless political chance for him to cement his hold on American life and culture for decades.

01:32 - Source: CNN
Friend: Possible SCOTUS pick is her own person

Every sign is that Trump is considering relatively young nominees who could serve for a quarter century or more. His first pick, Neil Gorsuch, is already a talisman for conservatives, and Trump will aim to manage the debut of his next nominee to assure a clean confirmation process. His first go-around last year was one of the smoothest, least dramatic episodes so far in an otherwise chaotic presidency, and vindicated the support that some skeptical conservatives gave his 2016 candidacy.

“We’re going to give you a great one,” Trump told supporters in West Virginia on Tuesday night.

“I think you’ll be very impressed. These are very talented people, brilliant people and I think you’re going to really love it, like Justice Gorsuch. We hit a home run there, and we’re going to hit a home run here,” Trump said.

The President is sure to spend the weekend driving anticipation for his announcement, like a television producer building suspense for a prime-time show.

While the dynamics of Washington’s Republican-dominated political scene mean Democrats have little leverage to stop a nomination they see as a generational disaster, there are signs the process may be more complicated than the Gorsuch confirmation.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” on Sunday that she would not vote for a nominee hostile to the Roe v Wade ruling upholding the constitutional right to an abortion. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, is under scrutiny for similar reasons. Both senators voted to confirm Gorsuch, however, who most conservatives believe would vote to overturn Roe v Wade.

Intense lobbying is taking place ahead of Trump’s announcement, with some divisions appearing in legal circles between supporters of Judge Amy Coney Barrett -- a favorite of social conservatives – and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who some in the movement feel has been insufficiently supportive in some rulings on key planks of its orthodoxy.

Whoever Trump picks, though, is likely to be the culmination of a decades-long effort by the conservative legal community to dictate the ideological balance of the court.

NATO in the balance?

The NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday and next Thursday is one of the most consequential meetings of Western leaders since the end of the Cold War.

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Trump threatens NATO alliance in letters to world leaders

Trump’s hostility to multinational institutions and his belief that America’s allies are freeloading off its security guarantees have convinced many alliance diplomats that the most successful post-World War II national security institution could be at risk.

Such fears multiplied after Trump feuded with allied leaders at the G7 summit in Canada, where he complained that NATO was worse than NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he is trying to renegotiate with Mexico and Canada.

Trump will call on NATO leaders to live up to the alliance’s target of 2% of their gross domestic product for defense spending, after sending letters to some governments warning of a reassessment of US priorities in Europe if they fail to do so.

Also looming over the summit is bad blood between Trump and European Union leaders over a gathering trade war sparked by his imposition of sanctions on steel and aluminum imports to the US.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday that Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on European car imports to the US could have dire consequences.

“It’s worth every effort to try and defuse this so that this conflict does not become a war,” she told German lawmakers.

A sort of homecoming

Trump will finally make his first visit as President to Britain on July 13. His arrival is expected to spark mass protests in London. His stay is being categorized as a working visit and won’t see the pageantry of the full state occasion that the leader of Britain’s closest ally usually enjoys.

Details of the visit are yet to be announced. But Trump is expected to stay out of central London and to see Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle for the most keenly awaited photo-op of the visit. He is then likely to meet Prime Minister Theresa May – for whom his visit marks a dicey political assignment – at her official country residence, Chequers, in Buckinghamshire, west of London, diplomatic sources said.

Trump reportedly told May in a telephone call after he was elected in November 2016 that his late mother, Mary, was a big admirer of the Queen, so his audience with the world’s longest-reigning monarch may be a poignant moment for the President, as well as an encounter that unites two of the world’s most famous people. Trump is also expected to visit one of his golf courses in his mother’s homeland – Scotland – during the trip.

One-on-one with Putin

Trump’s summit with Putin is exactly the kind of high-profile, headline-grabbing encounter he relishes. But it also poses a significant risk given the Russian leader’s skills as a ruthless and accomplished diplomatic power player.

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Trump, Putin to meet in Helsinki July 16th

US allies are concerned that Trump will be so fixated with his looming summit with Putin in Helsinki that he will be unable to concentrate on the NATO summit or may see getting tough on allied leaders as a way to impress the Russian President.

Trump’s first stand-alone summit with Putin on July 16 will renew speculation about his approach to one foreign leader whom he never criticizes and who is accused by US intelligence agencies of meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump win.

That intrigue will deepen if Trump goes ahead with his plan to huddle with Putin alone apart from interpreters before throwing open the meeting to wider delegations.

Trump is under pressure to raise the issue of election meddling with Putin, since he has repeatedly highlighted the Russian leader’s denials that Moscow’s espionage agencies were involved, in defiance of his own clandestine community.

Trump’s claims that the election interference saga is a “witch hunt” and a plot by Democratic and “deep state” foes absorbed a blow with the release of a report by a key Senate panel Tuesday that endorsed the findings of US intelligence agencies.

Despite the political clouds over the summit, the two sides have grave issues to discuss since relations are in their worst since the fall of the Soviet Union. Trump is adamant that he can repair the poisoned US-Russia relationship. The talks are expected to focus on the geopolitical mire in Syria, fears of a new nuclear arms race and Trump’s effort to convince North Korea to end its own nuclear and missile programs.

But few analysts are expecting big progress.

“Domestic politics has made it hard to get to the summit, but it’s divisions over actual issues that will make the summit deliverables difficult,” said Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center.