In February, we wrote about President Trump's “intense” handshakes. Trump has a habit of sharing awkward, intense and sometimes downright strange handshakes with world leaders and U.S. officials.
Trump had yet another handshake incident Thursday, but in this case, it's the lack of a handshake that's making news. Agata Kornhauser-Duda, wife of Polish President Andrzej Duda, walked right past Trump's outstretched hand during a staged photo op, leaving the president hanging, and shook first lady Melania Trump's hand instead. Kornhauser-Duda did eventually shake Trump's hand, but by then, the Internet had already pounced on the moment.
In this case, it seems Trump broke protocol by attempting to shake Kornhauser-Duda's hand before she exchanged greetings with First Lady Melania Trump.
“The receiving head of state greets first the visiting head of state and then the wife of the visiting head of state,” said Gilbert Monod de Froideville, an international protocol expert who also serves as an honorary aide to the royal family of the Netherlands. “He then introduces his wife who greets first the visiting head of state and then the wife of the visiting head of state. The host is leading. Your president and the wife of the receiving head of state should have waited.”
Back to those intense handshakes. In May, Trump shared what The Washington Post's Philip Rucker called a “fierce” handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron. Rucker wrote:
As President Trump met French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time, welcoming him to lunch Thursday at the residence here of the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, the two men shook hands for six long seconds. Their knuckles turned white, their jaws clenched and their faces tightened. Trump reached in first, but then he tried to release, twice, but Macron kept his grip until letting go.
Our original post from February is below.
We know President Trump is concerned with appearances — especially when he's on television, or in front of news photographers or large crowds.
We also know that Trump is concerned with hands — how large they are, how strong they are — just look at them!
Trump is also a well-known germaphobe. He initially shunned shaking hands with supporters on the campaign trail. As president, protocol compels him to shake a lot of hands, though.
And recently, he's taken part in a few handshakes that we'll just call “intense” for now — most recently, a bizarre moment with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.
Whether it's just habit, or a way of asserting his power, Trump has a habit of pulling forcefully on the hand he's shaking. We've spotted it now in handshakes with Vice President Pence (on election night) and with Judge Neil M. Gorsuch (on the night Trump nominated Gorsuch to the Supreme Court).
This afternoon, he did it again, with Abe.
Trump even took time out to compliment Abe's “strong hands” — or maybe he was just referencing his own.
But Trump doesn't always tug on the hands of those he's greeting. When Kanye West visited Trump Tower in December, the two dapped like old friends.
While it's admittedly a small thing, little glimpses into Trump's thinking can give us an idea of how he handles these situations. But let's be honest — we already knew Trump likes to be in control.