Just hours before Trump referred to Macron's comments as "nasty" the two came together for what appeared to be a cordial meeting.

  • President Trump and French President Macron's relationship has severely deteriorated since the two met each other three years ago.
  • On Tuesday, Trump called Macron "very, very nasty" after the French leader criticised the US for withdrawing troops from Syria.
  • Insider analyzed the rocky relationship the two world leaders share.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


In the three years since the two world leaders first met each other, US President Donald Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron's relationship has slowly deteriorated.

Trump, who once said he has a "great relationship" with Macron, on Tuesday told reporters that comments by the French leader were "very, very nasty" and "insulting".

Trump's statements were in response to an interview Macron had with The Economist last month where he said the NATO defense alliance was experiencing "brain death," claiming the US withdrew troops from Syria without consulting alliance partners.

The tension between the two world leaders indicates a dramatic deterioration since they shared lengthy handshakes and Trump picked dandruff off Macron's shoulder to prepare him for a photo.

Here's how Trump and Macron's relationship has evolved since meeting in 2017:


May 25, 2017

In their first meeting in Brussels before a NATO summit shortly after Macron's election, the duo was seen shaking each other's hands for an uncomfortably long time before Trump finally pulled away.

At the time, Trump was widely speculated to support Macron's hard-right opponent Marine Le Pen in the French presidential elections, who he said had a tougher stance on borders.

On the same day, Trump - who has a penchant for awkward handshakes - was seen pulling Macron's hand while shaking it after Macron chose to greet German Chancellor Angela Merkel first.

Days later, Macron told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the handshake was "not innocent."

"It's not the alpha and the omega of a policy, but a moment of truth… We must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic, but nothing overmediate either," Macron was quoted as saying at the time.

He also told Vanity Fair that he watched videos of Trump's handshakes in preparation for their first meeting.


July 13, 2017

President Donald Trump, in a rather inappropriate move, told Macron's wife Brigitte that she is in "such good shape" ahead of France's Bastille Day celebrations in Paris.

After repeating the statement to Macron, Trump turned to Brigitte again and called her "beautiful".

Brigitte Macron, 64, is 25 years older than Macron, almost the same as the 24-year age gap between Trump and his wife Melania.

Macron invited Trump to the national French holiday to honour the close relationship between France and the US.

The next day, Trump enthusiastically shook Macron's hand for about 25 seconds and at one point, he shook both Macron and Brigitte's hands at the same time.

Speaking about the French visit to the New York Times later, Trump said he has a "great relationship" with Macron.

"He's a great guy," Trump said. "Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand".

Trump said he was also inspired by the military display at Bastille Day to host a similar July 4 military parade at the US Capitol.


December 12, 2017

Following Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Accord, the US was not invited to a climate change meeting in Paris with world leaders.

At the time Macron, who had steadily criticised Trump's climate change beliefs over the past several years, also encouraged US scientists to relocate to France.

Macron said France "will be there to replace" US financing of climate research. He named the grant to help scientists relocate to France the "Make Our Planet Great Again" grant in a sardonic nod to Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan.


April 24, 2018

During Macron's first state visit to the US, Trump said he brushed some dandruff off of Macron's shoulder because the French president - 32 years his junior - should be "perfect".

"It's a great honour, a great honour to be here," Trump said during a press briefing at the White House. "We do have a very special relationship. In fact, I'll get that little piece of dandruff off - little piece. We have to make him perfect. He is perfect."

Later that day, the Macron/Trump handshake wars were ratcheted up to a partial embrace and ended with Trump kissing Macron on the cheek, saying, "I like him a lot".

Trump leans in to give Macron a peck.
Getty Images


June 7, 2018

At a meeting of the G7, Macron threatened to exclude Trump from participating with other leaders in a joint declaration of unity.

Macron also tweeted his disapproval with Trump over steel tariffs on European goods ahead of the summit.

"The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be," Macron wrote on Twitter.

"Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force," he continued.

In response, Trump claimed Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau charged massive tariffs on US goods.


November 13, 2018

After Macron suggested that Europe strengthen its own military capabilities, Trump slammed France saying, "They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along an apparent dig at France's occupation by Germany during World War II.

In a speech, Macron warned that Europe couldn't longer depend on the US for its military defense and called for urgent new security policies in the face of rising nationalism and extremism.

Trump then volleyed back, and called Macron's comments "very insulting" and claimed that France charges large tariffs on US products.

Macron, Trump said in a tweet, has a very low approval rating and high unemployment numbers.


June 12, 2019

Macron announced he would send Trump a new "friendship tree" to be planted at the White House after the original died, a week after he encouraged the US to fight for the freedom of others.

The original tree was brought over from Belleau Wood in France, where about 2,000 American servicemen died during World War I.

A week before Macron said he would send another tree, he attended a D-Day commemoration in France with Trump.

In a speech at the commemoration, Macron said: "The United States is never greater than when it is fighting for the freedom of others. The United States of America is never greater than when it shows its loyalty".


December 3, 2019

On the sidelines of a NATO summit, Trump said Macron made a "very, very nasty statement" when he described NATO as brain-dead in an interview with The Economist in November.

Macron made the statement while discussing Trump's withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria in October, and slammed Trump for not warning NATO of the planned withdrawal.

After Trump called Macron's comments "insulting," he then claimed France's economy was suffering, and referred to the yearlong "yellow vest" protests against Macron's pro-business economic policies.

The US also threatened to add tariffs on French cheese, champagne, make-up and handbags after France started taxing US digital companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

Macron raised Trump's hackles once again by openly joking with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Trump.
YouTube

Later that day, Macron was recorded in a conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which the three laughed at Trump's antics.

That probably didn't go over well.


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