Emmanuel Macron made a move that embarrassed Donald Trump in front of other world leaders, and the president of the United States retaliated by yanking Macron’s arm and trying to throw him off-balance.
Newly-elected French president Emmanuel Macron had to endure not one, but two, awkward handshake showdowns with Donald Trump in Brussels. The first encounter took place on Thursday morning ahead of the two leaders’ working lunch. Macron and Trump posed for photos at the residence of the U.S. ambassador in Brussels, where they spent a few tense moments tightly gripping each other’s fingers in a forceful handshake. Newsweek notes that Emmanuel Macron seemed prepared for the moment he was forced to make physical contact with the American president, whose handshake tactics have become infamous. Trump is notorious for trying to assert his dominance over others by squeezing their hands with a vice-like grip and giving their arms a sudden yank. This often catches them off-guard and makes them stumble forward.
However, this didn’t happen to Emmanuel Macron. He kept his grip on Trump’s hand firm, and he kept his arm tense so that the president couldn’t yank it forward. Associated Press White House reporter Jonathan Lemire observed that Trump actually tried to pull his hand away from Macron, but the French president made sure that he was the one to decide when the handshake ended.
“Macron plays the Trump handshake game well. Looks like POTUS wanted to disengage at one point but French president gripped tight,” Lemire tweeted.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 25, 2017
The tense arm-wrestling match between Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron comes after the American president expressed support for the French leader’s opponent, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, during France’s presidential election. However, now Reuters is reporting that Trump tried to rewrite history during his meeting with Emmanuel Macron. According to French officials, Trump told Macron that he was rooting for him to win the election.
“You were my guy,” Trump allegedly said.
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) May 25, 2017
Donald Trump got a second chance to try his favorite alpha male move on Emmanuel Macron ahead of the NATO summit. In a video of this encounter, Macron approaches Trump and a group of other NATO leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. It looks like Macron is walking toward the American president, who is standing on the left side of the group. Trump spreads his hands out to his sides and prepares to greet the French president, but, at the last moment, Macron swerves right and approaches Angela Merkel instead. Macron greets Merkel with a hug and two air-kisses on both cheeks before shaking the hands of a few other leaders. Trump is one of the last leaders Macron greets.
A video of the incident was shared on Emmanuel Macron’s Twitter account.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 25, 2017
As Paste Magazine observes, Donald Trump responded to Emmanuel Macron making him wait for their second handshake by giving Macron’s arm a yank that was “even more violent than normal.”
“Jesus. This time, there was no subtlety — Trump just yanked, got yanked in return, and then each man yanked again.”
Many social media users believe that Macron’s swerve maneuver was a deliberate snub: By approaching Angela Merkel first, he was sending a clear message to Donald Trump about who he recognizes as the current leader of the free world.
“A class act vs a baffoon. Macron is sophisticated enough to know you greet the leader of the free world and a woman first. Small fry last,” wrote one Twitter user in response to the video.
“As is courteous, @EmmanuelMacron greets the leader of the free world first,” tweeted author J.K. Rowling.
Emmanuel Macron later winked at Angela Merkel.
At NATO Summit family photo, Merkel appears to wonder why Macron not on front row, he's chilling on back row, winks at Chancellor pic.twitter.com/X1Ho3bittH
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) May 25, 2017
Angela Merkel has had her own awkward handshake encounter with Trump. As Politico reports, Donald Trump appeared to ignore the German chancellor’s request to shake his hand during her March visit to the White House. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer later suggested that Trump simply didn’t hear Merkel’s request, the Independent reports.
Still, perhaps Angela Merkel enjoyed a little schadenfreude when Emmanuel Macron veered away from Donald Trump’s awaiting hands to give her a warm embrace.
[Featured Image by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images]