Macron and Trump Try to Out-Male Each Other During a Handshake

To quote CNN: “The ever-growing book of weird handshakes involving President Donald Trump has a new chapter!” Or should we say une nouvelle chapitre?

On the last leg of his first international trip, President Trump is attending a NATO summit with other world leaders, including French president Emmanuel Macron.

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Before the summit, Macron and Trump sat together for photos, each giving short 20-second statements and shaking hands. Trump is known for having a weird handshake, holding on too long, shaking too hard, and yanking people close, all in an attempted display of dominance. It could have been uncomfortable for Macron, but if he could prepare his campaign for Russian hackers, he could prepare for a Trump handshake.

The handshake lasted about five seconds and included pained smiles, prolonged eye contact, clenched jaws, and white knuckles. From the video, it’s clear that Macron wasn’t going to be cowed by Trump’s hand-intimidation tactics. Macron even seems to have gotten the best of Trump, because unlike every other handshake Trump has had with world leaders, it was Trump who backed out first. Or at least he tried to. Trump attempted to let go twice, but Macron kept his grip tight, forcing the handshake to continue.

A combination photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump (L) trying twice to let go of a handshake with France's President Emmanuel Macron (R) as Macron holds tight, before a working lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A combination photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump (L) trying twice to let go of a handshake with France’s President Emmanuel Macron (R) as Macron holds tight, before a working lunch ahead of a NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

After Macron bested Trump in the battle of handshakes, Macron took a victory lap by speaking in French to the press. Macron, of course, speaks English, but he chose to speak French, a language that Trump does not speak. As Macron went on about the things he and Trump would discuss that day, Trump was left to sit there nodding and smiling.

We really have to give it up to the French-speakers for figuring out how best to deal with a Trump handshake. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also outmaneuvered Trump, when he “approached Trump with speed, grabbed his shoulder and got in close before the president had a chance to tug at his arm.”