On Friday President Donald Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House. Afterward the two sat for a photo op in the Oval Office, as is tradition when U.S. presidents host foreign world leaders. But something about this photo op was a little different, as are most things Trump.
When the two sat for photos yesterday afternoon there was chatter on social media about Trump possibly ignoring a request from the photographers in attendance for a handshake. At the time, we (and many others) gave the president the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps he just didn’t hear the request from photographers, as well as a request of sorts from Merkel herself. But now that more video with better audio has emerged, it’s pretty hard to argue that Trump didn’t just ignore the request and/or flat-out refuse to shake Merkel’s hand in the Oval Office photo op session, as he has with other world leaders he’s hosted. (Those handshakes have also not been without controversy for the weird, semi-violent manner in which Trump shakes hands, mind you.)
Some are theorizing that Trump not wanting to shake Merkel’s hand has something to do with not wanting to piss off his pals at Breitbart — which launched a German site this year seemingly hell bent on taking her down — or to impress his buddy Vlad Putin, who famously dislikes Merkel and has been apparently spreading fake news in an effort to get her out of power and who once used his dog to try to intimidate her. But what’s odd about this is that Trump did shake Merkel’s hand earlier in the day — when she arrived at the White House and when the two took questions for reporters — as these Getty Images show.