You've seen the now-infamous photo of Donald Trump surrounded by an angry-looking group of American allies at the recent G-7 summit in Quebec, right? Well, the president has seen it, too — and Trump's response to Angela Merkel's photo describes the photo in a much different light.
In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that took place soon after Trump's meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Stephanopoulos asked about Trump's "dizzying few days of diplomacy," meaning the G-7 summit immediately followed by the North Korea meeting, and Trump brought up the photo.
"She was looking at me, you know what we were doing? We were talking while we were waiting for the final copy of the document," Trump said, describing the situation in the photo. "That was, that was such an innocent picture. You know, we put out that picture. That was put out by my people. That was really a picture of me sitting this way."
He then explained why all of the leaders were gathered there.
"I'm waiting for the document so we can final read it," Trump told Stephanopoulus. "What happened is we had a final document. I wasn't a hundred percent, but I wanted to leave nicely, so we had a document."
Later, he summed up the photo in his own words, which directly contradicted the reactions to it on the internet. "I just do want to say, though, that picture was supposed to be a friendly picture. That was put out by us," Trump said. "And we were waiting for the document to come back so we could read it. I left, everybody was happy, everybody shook."
He even appealed to another leader for validation, saying, "You should ask Prime Minister Abe. Everybody was happy."
Angela Merkel's office originally shared the photo on Instagram, the English caption for which read "Day two of the G7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions." The internet, however, took it upon itself to act as the collective captioner of the photo, reading all sorts of reactions into it. Many of them noted how the other leaders appeared frustrated with Trump, who seemed amused by some unknown exchange.
"This looks like everyone is ready to go out but can’t leave until Trump puts on his shoes, and he’s refusing to put on his shoes," wrote one Twitter commentator.
Many observers believed that the photo showed an unpleasant scene, though, for example with Vanity Fair describing it as "Angela Merkel's tense Instagram" or USA Today referring to "German Chancellor Merkel staring [Trump] down." Bustle spoke to two body language experts about the photo, and they both agreed that Merkel's posture displayed aggression.
Trump's claim from his ABC News interview that his team had released the photo seems to be a false one, as Merkel's office published the original photo and his team published its own photo. The Trump team's photo shows the same scene from an entirely different angle, though, overlooking the whole group and facing Trump directly. In that version of the photo, it appears as though Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is indeed amused about something, as is National Security Advisor John Bolton. Trump is in the middle of saying something, and only Merkel's neck and the back of her head are visible. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who Trump later eviscerated on Twitter, is standing behind Trump and laughing about something.
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. But multiple pictures of the same event can often offer very different interpretations of the situation. Merkel hasn't offered her take on the photo that she posted — but now Trump has offered his.