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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

If we learned anything from Trump’s joint press conference with Theresa May earlier this year, it’s that Trump is incapable of meeting with a foreign head of state without embarrassing himself and his country. Friday’s summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel proved a grim reminder.

Between wildly inappropriate jokes and bizarre proclamations, the president attempted to lay out the future of America’s trade relationship with Europe’s largest economic power, only sporadically succeeding. Here are five of the event’s most awkward moments.

1. Trump refused to shake Merkel’s hand.

Trump’s handshakes with world leaders have become international incidents in their own right, but Friday’s was one of a kind. Merkel asked the president if he’d like to take advantage of the photo op, and he plainly ignored her.

2. Trump defended Obamacare replacement plan by citing crowd size — in Tennessee.

“It’s coming together beautifully,” Trump told MSNBC’s Mark Halperin in the joint press conference. “Obamacare is a disaster. I was in Tennessee [on Wednesday, March 15], we had a massive crowd… Obamacare will fail very, very soon.”

Trump also insisted the American Healthcare Act had been covered “very inaccurately.”

3. Merkel compared Trump to other U.S. presidents in the vaguest way possible.

Angela Merkel has served as German Chancellor since 2000, so Halperin wanted to know how conversations with Trump compared to those with George W. Bush and Barack Obama before him. Her answer was revealing.

“We were trying to address the areas we disagree,” she said of their ideological opposition. “We need to be fair to each other.”

“People are different,” Merkel mused. “That is diversity, which is good.”

4. Trump slammed his ‘isolationist’ label as a product of fake news.

“Why are you so scared of diversity in the news?” one reporter asked of Trump.

“Nice friendly reporter,” he remarked. “The United States has been treated very unfairly by many countries over the years.”

Another journalist asked what he made of his reputation as an “isolationist.”

“I don’t know what newspaper you’re reading,” Trump bellowed, “but I guess that would be another example of ‘fake news!'”

5. Trump found common ground with Merkel — on wiretapping.

Trump refused to take responsibility for the fallout resulting from his allegations that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Towers during the 2016 elections.

“I didn’t make an opinion on that, you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox,” he told a German reporter. “As far as wiretapping, by this last administration, at least we have something in common.”

Leaks by Edward Snowden revealed that Merkel’s phone had been tapped by the U.S. National Security Agency.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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