One of President Donald Trump’s favorite moves is the overly aggressive handshake, a pathetically transparent power play where he grabs the recipient’s hand with one hand, pats their hand or lower arm with another, and shakes it just a little too vigorously and a little too long. Trump famously deployed this petty gesture in press conferences and photo ops with foreign leaders, but he demurred from such behavior in his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House earlier today.
In video posted by MSNBC, Trump sits in the same Oval Office chair where he attempted to emasculate Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a miserable look on his face and his hands in front of his lap, sullenly refusing to look at the German chancellor as photographers click away. At one point, Merkel appears to lean in and ask Trump for a handshake for the cameras; uncharacteristically, Trump fails to move in on her like a bitch, and the two do not shake hands.
The two leaders did shake hands at the press conference following the photo call, where a German reporter asked Trump if he regretted accusing Obama of wiretapping him during the election, making himself sound like a paranoid conspiracy nut and setting up stand-up comedian Kellyanne Conway’s now-infamous microwave bit. Trump responded by shirking any personal responsibility for the statement, making a crack about Obama tapping Merkel’s phones—”at least we have something in common, perhaps,” he said—before blaming Fox News for the mistake, because that’s what alpha males do. (Fox News has already responded with a rousing, “I know you are, but what am I?”.) Merkel’s face at the press conference, we think, speaks for itself.