Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel met with President Donald Trump for the first time Friday, and the encounter between the liberal European leader and the far-right, demagogic president was, if anything, extraordinarily awkward.
Trump ignored Merkel’s request for a handshake, provoked a look of disbelief when he repeated his allegations that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones—”we have that in common,” he told Merkel—and called a German newspaper “fake news” after a reporter asked him a question. He appeared to find it difficult to bring himself to look at the German chancellor.
And while many expected that Merkel, who has advocated welcoming and resettling refugees even as other European countries have closed their borders to asylum seekers, would clash with Trump over immigration, Trump instead appeared to entirely dodge her appeal for more humane immigration policies.
On Twitter, disbelief and embarrassment was the overwhelming response to what one pundit described as the “most remarkable/bizarre press conference between two allies I’ve ever seen”:
Photographers: Can we get a handshake?
Merkel (to Trump): Do you want to have a handshake?
Trump: *no response*
Merkel: *makes awkward face* pic.twitter.com/ehgpCnWPg7
— David Mack (@davidmackau) March 17, 2017
This press conference is ridiculous. Trump still says he was witetapped by Obama. Says he and Merkel have that in common.
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 17, 2017
GREATEST Freudian slip from Trump just now in Merkel press conference: “We’re a very powerful company…er, country.”
— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) March 17, 2017
German reporter asks Trump about his misuse of fake news and about wiretapping. Trump responds by calling her a peddler of…fake news. pic.twitter.com/KNxIElEPOi
— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) March 17, 2017
I think a lot of women will find Trump refusing to even look at Merkel during that presser pretty familiar
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) March 17, 2017
OH MY GOD. Trump is defending his false wiretapping claims by citing a “highly respected lawyer… on Fox News.”
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) March 17, 2017
Trump/Merkel press conference becoming almost too embarrassing to watch …
— Andrew Neil (@afneil) March 17, 2017
somehow seeing merkel next to trump drives home how bonkers this version of reality is
— Erin Gloria Ryan (@morninggloria) March 17, 2017