US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shake hands ahead of a working lunch, at the US ambassador's residence, on the sidelines of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Macron: Trump handshake was moment of truth
00:46 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Trump and Macron shared a tense handshake, which Macron said was "not innocent" and "a moment of truth"

Macron said he could establish a "cordial relationship" with Trump

Washington CNN  — 

French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that there was indeed a deeper significance to the prolonged handshake he shared with US President Donald Trump in Brussels.

“My handshake with him, it’s not innocent,” Macron told the Journal du Dimanche in an interview published Sunday. “It’s not the alpha and the omega of politics, but a moment of truth.”

The two newly-minted leaders met in Brussels on Thursday and shook hands in full view of the press.

Pool reporter Phillip Rucker of the Washington Post, who was in the room, described it:

“They shook hands for an extended period of time. Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”

Steve Holland, who covers the White House for Reuters, tweeted this: “The photogs noticed that Trump and Macron were gripping their hands hard… Trump seems to just want his hand back.”

On at least one, and maybe two, occasions during the tug of war Trump tries to pull away and Macron just keeps holding on.

Trump’s 1st foreign trip: 5 takeaways

Handshake history

The tense moment during Trump’s first trip abroad as President became the latest of Trump’s handshakes to draw attention online. In February, Trump’s lengthy handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – along with Abe’s animated reaction – went viral.

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Trump's awkward handshakes with world leaders
02:08 - Source: CNN

Handshakes are a very big thing to this president, writes CNN’s Chris Cillizza. Trump seems to view the handshake as a sort of battle of wills and a battle for power all wrapped into one.

In addition to the awkward Abe shake, Trump has foisted his unusual tug-and-pull style on other high-profile figures, including Vice President Mike Pence and Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Decoding Trump’s body language

Show of dominance

In the interview, Macron compared his own handshake to his leadership posture.