Trump has handshake of ‘primitive jungle scene’ and attention span of a ‘squirrel’

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
James Crump
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
<p>French President Emmanuel Macron (R) bids farewell to US President Donald Trump (L) and  US First Lady Melania Trump, after the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on 14 July 2017</p> ((AFP via Getty Images))

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) bids farewell to US President Donald Trump (L) and US First Lady Melania Trump, after the annual Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on 14 July 2017

((AFP via Getty Images))

Former US President Donald Trump’s handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron was likened to a “primitive jungle scene”, while his lack of focus in meetings was described as a “squirrel caught in traffic” in a new BBC documentary.

According to the three-part series, Trump Takes on the World, which aired its first episode on BBC Two on Wednesday, Mr Trump’s handshake raised eyebrows when he visited Mr Macron on 14 July 2017.

French ambassador to the US, Gérard Araud, described Mr Trump’s handshake style at the Bastille Day Parade in Paris in the programme, likening it to a “primitive jungle scene”.

Footage of their meeting at the event, where Mr Trump was the guest of honour, showed the two leaders engaging in a 30-second long handshake, with neither man letting go even when the US President greeted the French first lady Brigitte Macron.

Read more: Follow live Trump impeachment updates

“At the beginning of his presidency Trump would assert his ‘alpha male’ authority by tearing off the shoulder of the person he was meeting,” said Mr Araud over footage of the meeting.

“And so Macron responded as another alpha male – it was like a primitive jungle scene. Two alpha males meeting and sizing each other up. Trump is from the real estate world of New York, which is a world of killers,” he added.

Mr Araud said that the pair spoke about other leaders around the world, claiming that Mr Trump asked Mr Macron what he thought of German chancellor Angela Merkel and UK prime minister Theresa May.

“Macron said nothing and Trump said ‘they are losers’” claimed Mr Araud with a smile.

Mr Trump’s aggressive handshakes with world leaders became a staple of his meetings, with former Belgian prime minister Charles Michel saying in 2017 that he prepared himself “mentally” for their interaction.

The series, made by the award-winning documentary maker Norma Percy, covers Mr Trump's four years at the White House.

Mr Trump’s handshake is not his only characteristic joked about in the first episode of the programme, with his lack of focus in meetings also remarked upon by Guy Snodgrass, communications director for former defence secretary Jim Mattis.

Mr Snodgrass spoke about a meeting with Mr Mattis and the then President at the Pentagon on 20 July 2017, to brief Mr Trump about the US' relationship with allies around the world.

The then communications director said that the officials in the meeting were struggling to get through to Mr Trump about the benefit of good relationships with allies, when Mr Trump "crosses his arms and scowls and started careening from topic to topic like a squirrel caught in traffic".

Mr Snodgrass said that Mr Trump event touched on his visit to Paris in the meeting, adding: "He turns to secretary Mattis and says 'my god did you see the handshake with President Macron?'"

Wednesday's episode of the documentary also revealed how Ms May's aides were "surprised" by the US president holding the prime minister's hand before a lunch meeting.

It also covered Mr Trump's request to then-French president Francois Hollande to help him appoint advisers in his first days in office.

Trump Takes on the World begins on Wednesday at 9pm on BBC Two.

Read More

Trump Takes on the World review: A jaw-dropping waltz down nightmare memory lane

Trump ‘turned red’ when staffers said he had missed a call from Putin, new documentary reveals