French president Emmanuel Macron added another chapter to his ongoing handshake journey with Donald Trump on Saturday.
It all started in May 2017, the first time the two leaders met. In the months leading up to their meeting, Trump had built up a reputation for being kind of a dick about his handshakes. So when he met Macron, the French president came prepared to do battle.
Macron later admitted that the handshake “wasn’t innocent.” As he told a French newspaper a couple days later: “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either.”
Then, a few months later, things got real awkward when Trump paid a visit to France for the country’s Bastille Day celebrations. When he and First Lady Melania Trump met with President Macron and his wife Brigitte, their handshake went on so long — and weirdly, featured an interlude where Brigitte joined the fray as well — that CNN devoted a short segment to dissecting it.
(Plenty of non-newsworthy stuff draws attention during the Trump era, but this was different. It was a bizarre moment.)
Tensions between the two men simmered down until April 2018, when they met again at the White House and held a joint press conference. This one left handshakes behind entirely, entering into a whole new realm of greetings. There was a bro clutch. An air kiss. A hug.
Then they did it again at the end of the press conference. It’s a rare moment where, instead of just being a narcissistic monster, Trump just came off as amusingly weird. (He’s still a malignant cancer eating away at the democratic heart of the USA, to be clear.)
We’re still not done, folks. Just over a month later, at the 2018 G7 summit, Macron escalated. He gripped Trump’s hand so tightly with his expert-tier handshake that he went and left marks on the U.S. president’s hand.
Like I said, there’s a history. Now, here we are in November 2018… and Macron is at it again. One might say he crushed it.
He met with Trump on Saturday in an effort to ease tensions around Trump’s criticism of European security. But let’s be real: We’re here for the handshake. And what a moment it was. Macron knows how to play for the camera. He let Trump try to pull away first, pausing for a moment before he let go himself.
The result? This perfect photograph:
A tweet that has since gone viral praises the photo work of Reuters shooter Carlos Barria, who got a more front-and-center look at the scene, as you can see in this Reuters story.
Of course, this is just a frozen moment that looks especially bad out of context. It’s just a tiny snippet of the actual handshake. Macron just timed his release of Trump’s hand well.
See for yourself (the handshake happens near the end):
Was it intentional? I wouldn’t dare speculate. But it sure is a treat to see Donald Trump experiencing even a moment of discomfort, and in close-up no less. Beyond that: whether or not he did it on purpose, Macron is the clear winner of his latest handshake showdown with Trump.