To call the presidency of Donald J. Trump eventful would be a drastic understatement. The United States of America’s 45th commander-in-chief has filled countless column inches since he took office in January 2017, though he didn’t just become a controversial figure overnight. Trump has a history of uncomfortable exchanges with reporters that stretches back years, and while many of them have gotten pretty awkward (who could forget the time he branded CNN’s Jim Acosta “a rude, terrible person” in front of stunned colleagues), heated conversations are to be expected when political policies are under discussion. The most awkward Trump moments tend to happen when he momentarily lets his guard down, as is the case with the following cringe-worthy clips.
From apparent troubles with toilet rolls and umbrellas to the major royal gaffe he committed when visiting the queen, these are the most awkward Donald Trump moments that were caught on camera.
Donald Trump refused to shake the German Chancellor's hand in an awkward clip
Donald Trump’s relationship with longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel began to fracture before the former star of The Apprentice became president. Both were in the running for Time magazine’s Person of the Year award in 2015, and when Merkel won, Trump took to Twitter to voice his complaints. “I told you Time magazine would never pick me as Person of the Year despite being the big favorite,” Trump tweeted. “They picked [the] person who is ruining Germany.” Trump was highly critical of Merkel’s stance on immigration throughout 2016, and when they were scheduled to meet for the first time as world leaders the following year, many predicted that it would be extremely awkward — and, of course, they were absolutely correct.
Trump welcomed his European counterpart to the White House warmly, but things went downhill from there. When the pair sat down next to one another for a photo op, reporters requested a handshake, a request that Trump appeared to ignore. Merkel can even be heard saying “Do you want to have a handshake?” in the footage of the super awkward moment, but the president does not respond. The German press were indignant, praising their leader while admonishing Trump for his perceived rudeness. Magazine Der Spiegel called POTUS an “unsophisticated yet self-absorbed political neophyte,” according to the Daily Mail.
His awkward umbrella etiquette has been caught on camera several times
Donald Trump knows all about the art of the deal, but when it comes to the art of the umbrella, it’s a different story. The president has been accused of being an umbrella hog on more than one occasion. In January 2018, he let his wife, Melania Trump, and his son, Barron Trump, get rained on as the family boarded Air Force One, and in October of that year, he drew criticism for not sharing his umbrella with the First Lady as he spoke to reporters in the rain. “She did a great job on television the other night,” Trump said of Melania (via ABC), seemingly unaware of the fact that she was getting wet.
Trump actually had not one, but two embarrassing umbrella moments in October 2018. In a bizarre clip that went viral, the president is seen boarding Air Force One in the rain, his signature black umbrella held aloft. The umbrella is so big that it doesn’t fit through the door of the plane, but instead of folding it away, Trump just leaves it right there at the door. “Unbelievable — Trump doesn’t know how to close an umbrella,” journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted. POTUS was filmed in a similarly awkward umbrella-related incident around six months later, handing his umbrella to someone standing inside the plane rather than closing it himself.
The time Donald Trump brushed 'dandruff' from the French President's suit
Donald Trump seems to get along with French President Emmanuel Macron better than he does with Angela Merkel, but that doesn’t mean there’s been zero awkwardness between them. The pair were involved in a couple of bizarre handshakes that made headlines in 2017, one for its sheer intensity (their knuckles turned white and their jaws were clenched, according to reporters) and one for its unusual length (they held onto one another for a whole 29 seconds). Macron later admitted that his intense handshake with Trump was a power play. “It wasn’t innocent,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche (via The Guardian). “It’s not the be-all and the end-all of a policy, but it was a moment of truth.”
When Trump hosted Macron at the White House the following year, he appeared to get his own back. In a move that The New Yorker described as “a primate dominance display,” the US President removed a speck of “dandruff” from the jacket of his counterpart, in front of reporters and rolling cameras. Macron laughed it off, but the awkward exchange caused a stir on Twitter.
Shampoo brand Head and Shoulders even got involved, filling up a box addressed to the French Embassy with several bottles of anti-dandruff shampoo. “Whether you’re meeting the President or on your first date, we believe everyone should be 100% flake-free,” it captioned the tongue-in-cheek vid.
Donald Trump caused a royal stir when he walked in front of the queen
Queen Elizabeth II has hosted many a US president in her time, but the visit of Donald Trump will no doubt go down as one of the most controversial — and the most awkward. Trump was originally supposed to travel to the UK in 2017, but mass protests took place in London (involving a giant blimp depicting the president as a diaper-clad baby), and the trip was called off. Trump’s relationship with the queen began the following year when he was invited to the UK for a working visit that will be remembered primarily for the president’s glaring royal faux pas. As Trump accompanied Britain’s longest-serving monarch on a ceremonial inspection of the famous Coldstream Guards infantry unit, he walked in front of the queen, cutting her off and forcing her to walk around him.
The president’s awkward gaffe was captured by cameras and broadcast around the world, but nowhere was the backlash more brutal than in the United Kingdom itself. The British press and public were not impressed with what they saw, and they were up in arms again when Trump visited Buckingham Palace for an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019. Trump heaped praise on the queen in a speech, but he appeared to breach royal protocol in a big way when he seemingly placed a hand on her back as she got to her feet.
He appeared to push past Montenegro's prime minister at a NATO summit
Donald Trump was frank about his opinion on NATO prior to attending his first summit in Brussels, and he didn’t mince his words when he got there. The US President gave his fellow world leaders a dressing down over their contributions to the defense fund, telling them that some countries owed “massive amounts of money” after years of underspending. It was a pretty awkward moment (Angela Merkel was spotted shooting a sideward glance at her French counterpart and several other leaders looked highly uncomfortable), but it wasn’t even the most awkward Trump moment of the summit.
As the NATO leaders gathered for a tour of a new building, Trump was caught on camera seemingly shoving his way past the prime minister of Montenegro, the newest member of the alliance at the time. The president appeared determined to be at the front of the pack right next to NATO head Jens Stoltenberg, and Dusko Markovic was in his way. After barging his way through, the president can be seen adjusting his suit like nothing happened — which, according to Markovic, it didn’t. The Montenegrin leader played down the incident in a Time magazine piece, calling it “a harmless situation that can in no way affect the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries.” The internet wasn’t convinced, however. Even J.K. Rowling felt the need to tweet, calling Trump a “tiny, tiny, tiny little man.”
Donald Trump wanted to look 'handsome and thin' in photos with Kim Jong-un
Donald Trump’s rollercoaster relationship with Kim Jong-un reached peak awkwardness when the pair met for a historic summit in Singapore, the first-ever meeting between leaders of the United States and North Korea. They had traded blows in the run-up to the 2018 summit (Trump famously referred to Kim as “little rocket man,” while Kim dubbed Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard”), but the talks seemingly started well. The president and the supreme leader chatted for around 40 minutes before joining other officials for a long working lunch. Singapore’s Host TV was there to document the event, and its cameras caught a hilariously awkward moment between Trump and Kim.
As Kim and his entourage entered for the lunch, Trump turned to the photographers present and said something that left his North Korean counterpart visibly unimpressed. “Getting a good picture, everybody?” Trump said. “So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.” In a scene that could have come straight from The Office, Kim’s translator relays exactly what Trump is saying as the camera zooms in on his face, capturing his priceless expression. “Kim just gazes at cameras, looking somewhat stunned,” The Guardian‘s Julian Borger tweeted. The bizarre moment didn’t ruin their bromance, however — they met again in 2019, and Kim sent Trump well-wishes when he contracted coronavirus in 2020.
He boarded Air Force One with what appeared to be toilet paper on his shoe
Nobody is immune from getting toilet paper stuck to the bottom of their shoe, not even POTUS. In October 2018, Donald Trump held what Twin Cities described as a “raucous” midterm rally in Rochester, Minn. The president implored people to help him “stop radical Democrats and to elect proud Minnesota Republicans” during the rally, which brought 10,000 supporters to the Mayo Civic Center (there were “1,000 to 2,000 more watching on giant screens outside,” the Star Tribune confirmed). Trump also spoke about the NFL and Hilary Clinton in his speech, but it was his journey to the rally that wound up making the headlines.
The day after his Minnesota appearance, footage appeared of Trump boarding Air Force One to make his way to the event. As the president climbed the staircase, a strip of what appeared to be toilet roll could be seen flapping from his heel. The paper comes off just as Trump enters the plane, and is scooped up by a man in a black suit moments later, presumably to be flushed. Unfortunately for Trump, this wasn’t the last time he’d be spotted with what appeared to be toilet roll attached to his shoe — he had a suspect white trail behind him when he stepped out of the presidential limo at the Wall Street Helipad Landing in 2019.
Donald Trump made inappropriate comments about his daughter on daytime TV
Donald Trump has unusual relationships with all of his children, but his relationship with his eldest daughter Ivanka Trump has come in for particular scrutiny, and he only has himself to blame. According to the Independent, the first recorded instance of Trump making inappropriate remarks about his daughter dates back to 1997, when a then 16-year-old Ivanka hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant. “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot?” Trump reportedly asked at the event. “She’s hot, right?”
He’s made numerous cringe-worthy comments about Ivanka in the years since, many of them to shock jock Howard Stern. It’s one thing making crude remarks on The Howard Stern Show, but Trump caused a major stir when he got weird in front of daytime TV cameras.
When it was revealed that Trump and his eldest daughter were going to appear on The View together in 2006, everyone assumed that The Apprentice would be under discussion (Ivanka had recently featured on the show as a guest judge). They did discuss The Apprentice that day, but that’s not what people remember about this episode. Things got super awkward pretty much straight away, with Trump being asked how he would react if Ivanka were to appear in Playboy magazine. “I don’t think Ivanka would do that, although she does have a very nice figure,” Trump responded. “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
The time Donald Trump praised a child for having 'no weight problems'
Donald Trump’s first Halloween in the White House will be remembered for one particularly awkward encounter with the children of reporters, who were invited into the Oval Office to get some candy from the president. Trump started by asking a kid in a Darth Vader mask who he was supposed to be, indicating that he’s never seen the iconic Star Wars villain before. That in itself would be considered pretty odd in certain circles, though it was just beginning. The president decided to use the event as an opportunity to poke fun at the press (“I cannot believe the media produced such beautiful children,” he joked), and, believe it or not, it was far from the most awkward part of the day.
Things went from uncomfortable to unbearably awkward when Trump’s then-press secretary Sarah Sanders showed up with a big box of White House candy for the president to hand out. “Well, you have no weight problems,” he told one trick-or-treater as he dished out the candy, “that’s the good news, right? Good. You take out whatever you need.” Naturally, the media were all over the president’s bizarre comment. “Trump just managed to make Halloween candy weird,” said Glamour, while Vanity Fair called the whole meeting “three or so minutes of sheer torture.”
Donald Trump's wife apparently isn't into holding hands
Melania Trump has been involved in a number of awkward moments that were caught on camera, and many of them involve her husband — specifically, her husband’s hand. Donald Trump’s wife was first filmed seemingly swatting his hand away from hers during a trip to Israel in May of 2017. Melania then appeared to dodge another hand-holding request while exiting Air Force One in Rome on the way to meet the Pope. Later, she took to using her clothing to hide her hand so cameras couldn’t see if they were actually holding hands or not, it seems. Her outfit didn’t allow for that at Donald Trump’s final presidential debate with Joe Biden in 2020.
The debate was tame compared to the first one, but there was still plenty to talk about, including yet another instance of the First Lady seemingly pulling her hand away from her husband’s grip. As they exited the stage, the president took his wife by the hand. He didn’t have it for long, however — Melania appears to yank her hand free from her husband, who gives her a little pat on the back instead. The clip went viral and became the subject of much discussion on Twitter. “Watching it makes me cringe,” one user said, noting the “emotional disconnect” between the couple. Hollywood star Josh Gad even chimed in, sharing the video along with the caption: “Tonight Melania is all of our hands.”
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