13 Ways International Leaders Snubbed Trump When They Met Him
In terms of his relationships with international leaders, Donald Trump has had a somewhat rocky start to his presidency. Notably, the apparently perpetual controversy engendered by Trump has led some leaders in other countries to react strongly to the U.S. president. Several political leaders have seemingly actively snubbed Trump in public, either through actions, words, and/or policies.
Much of the snubbing Trump has experienced has occurred on the world stage, particularly at high-profile meetings like the NATO summit and the G20. At these meetings as well as on other trips abroad, Trump finds himself surrounded by foreign leaders who seem to have mixed feelings about the U.S. president. In some cases, these leaders apparently choose to make their feelings about the U.S. president apparent via their actions.
Trump's experience of being snubbed is not only limited to the global arena. At home, he has found his policy priorities snubbed and sidelined by members of Congress from both parties as well as by his own executive departments.
The examples below include moments from both abroad and in Washington, from other political leaders. While much of this apparent snubbing seems to (interestingly) center around body language and handshakes, it also manifests itself in surprising ways as well.
1. Lost in Translation
Many speculate that the First Lady of Japan, Akie Abe, seemingly snubbed Trump by pretending not to speak English (the First Lady has given speeches in the language) while seated next to him during a two-hour dinner.
While many believe that Abe executed an impressively stealthy snub, others think she simply is uncomfortable speaking the language without use of a script.
2. Papal Glares
During a much-publicized visit to the Vatican, Pope Francis appeared to snub Trump at every turn. The Pope appeared to have a pained look on his face during the official photo from the event and, as the Huffington Post UK reported, at one point seemed to glare at Trump with a "side-eyed" glance. The pontiff also reportedly did not respond to Trump when the president told him that it was "an honor" to be at the Vatican and instead merely silently stared at the press pool in front of him.
3. A Firm Grip
Back in February, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemingly explicitly sought to engage in a power play of sorts with Trump by skillfully snubbing Trump's "yank and jerk" handshake move. Trudeau avoided Trump's classic "handshake move" by, according to The Guardian, bracing himself against Trump's shoulder to avoid being pulled inward and by disengaging from the handshake first.
4. Active Avoidance
As President Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump were greeting the first couple of Poland during a visit to the country, Poland's first lady, Agata Kornhauser-Duda, appeared to skillfully avoid shaking Trump's hand, instead bypassing him to greet Melania. While it's possible that the Polish First Lady did not see Trump's extended arm, many believe it may have been a subtle but intentional snub.
5. Joint Chiefs Take A Stand
When Trump used Twitter to apparently ban all transgender individuals from the U.S. military, the military itself actively rebuffed Trump, sending a letter saying that it would not change its policies until it received official new rules and guidelines from the White House. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff added in the letter that "In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect."
6. Greetings From France
Similarly to Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron also sought to rebuff Trump's seemingly prototypical assertion of dominance via a handshake by concertedly shaking Trump's hand very firmly for an extended period of time during a meeting in Brussels.
Macron even admitted to using his body language to convey a message, telling the Journal du Dimanche, "My handshake with him, it's not innocent... One must show that we won't make little concessions, even symbolic ones."
7. Eyerolls and Grimaces
During Trump's speech at the NATO Summit in Brussels in May, the president chastised European leaders for supposedly not "paying their fair share" of costs for the defensive alliance. As Trump spoke, several leaders, including Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, appeared to snub Trump via their body language. Merkel seemed to roll her eyes as the president spoke and Macron notably grimaced.
8. The Swerve
At the NATO Summit in Brussels, French president Macron appeared to actively avoid a greeting from Trump, who seemed to warmly open his arms to Macron as the French leader approached. Instead of greeting Trump, Macron appeared to swerve to instead greet German Chancellor Merkel, warmly embracing her in a hug. While there is no way of knowing whether Macron's swerve was intentional, it certainly looked like a snub to outside observers.
9. Russian Override
This month, Congress collectively snubbed Trump's desire to take a different approach to relations with Russia. Congress overwhelmingly passed a Russian sanctions bill with enough votes to override a potential veto, essentially forcing Trump to sign the legislation. Moreover, the sanctions bill also included a "Congressional review" provision to limit Trump's powers in regards to easing Russian sanctions in the future.
10. A Royal Snub
During Queen Elizabeth's speech to open the UK's Parliament in June, she very notably neglected to mention Trump's forthcoming state visit to the country — an invitation which was presented to him by Prime Minister Theresa May shortly after his inauguration. The Queen's apparent snub during her speech has reportedly called into question whether or not the state visit, which has been highly controversial in Britain, will actually occur later this year.
11. Budget Blues
Earlier this year, Trump appeared to threaten to shut down the government by implying that he may refuse to sign a short-term spending bill if it did not include funding for his much-talked-about border wall. However, Congress flatly refused to add border wall funding to the spending bill, snubbing Trump and at least temporarily halting one of his major campaign promises. In the end, Trump did sign the spending bill, without wall funding.
12. Curtains For Comey
While not a political leader, as the FBI is a non-partisan entity, former FBI Director James Comey's Trump snub is too interesting to not mention. As reported by the New York Times, Comey once tried to blend in with blue curtains in the White House in order to avert Trump's gaze and avoid being called to the front of the room to embrace President Trump. Unfortunately for Comey, his disguise was not effective.
13. Snub From The Start
Dozens of Congressional Democrats refused to attend Trump's presidential inauguration on Jan 20, choosing to express their discontent with the president by refusing to make an appearance.
Overall, Trump has seemingly experienced an unprecedented level of "snubbing" from political leaders at home and abroad during his short presidency thus far. Time will tell if leaders will continue to try to send subtle messages by snubbing Trump or if they will take a new approach to the U.S. president.