“Trump visit couldn’t come at a worse time for May,” one U.S. source with ties to U.K. conservatives said, adding that there is a “big push” to dump her.
Trump could show a sign of support for May, or refuse to take her side — or even possibly become an active part of the movement to replace her. Anything less than a full-throated endorsement would naturally be taken as a sign that Trump doesn’t favor her remaining in power.
And, so far, he has withheld such an endorsement.
At the same time, Trump is eager to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a nationalist leader upon whom Trump has showered praise in the past. Rather than friend or foe, Trump has characterized Putin as a “competitor” in the international arena — even after Russia meddled in the 2016 election and even as Trump administration officials and members of both parties in Congress say Russia is continuing to try influence future elections.
Trump isn’t just cozying up to a longtime foe and giving the cold shoulder to staunch allies. He’s also making life difficult for leaders who have stood in the way of the conservative nationalist politics that have swept Europe and the U.S. over the last several years.
Now, with his up-close look at May imminent, the question is whether Trump will follow through in helping like-minded conservatives take her out or whether he will prevail on them to back down. It’s hard to see him risking political capital to help save her, which suggests just how much peril she’s in.
Trump prizes disruption — sometimes for its own sake — and promotes nationalism around the globe. There may be no simpler expression of those goals than bludgeoning members of an alliance for not spending more money building their own militaries.