An explosive video has emerged of a hot-mic moment at the recent NATO reception at Buckingham Palace, as Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson, Dutch PM Mark Rutte and Princess Anne were filmed apparently making jokes at the expense of the US President.
In the footage, Prime Minister Trudeau appears to be saying “He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference”, referencing President Trump’s spontaneous press conference on Tuesday, and also commented that “I just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor”. The other members of the circle, including Boris Johnson, laugh along with Trudeau in a video that has already infuriated Trump, who has since branded the Canadian PM as “two-faced”.
This isn’t the first time that Donald Trump has clashed with Justin Trudeau, as he lashed out on Twitter in 2018, calling Trudeau “dishonest” and “weak” after talks over trade fell through at the G7 summit in Canada, nor is it the first time Trump has been publicly laughed at by world leaders. When he announced that “my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country” to a UN assembly in 2018, the gathered world representatives erupted into laughter, leading a bashful Trump to admit that he “didn’t expect that reaction”.
Trump left the NATO summit early after his humiliation, and Trudeau and Johnson have both responded to the embarrassing video. Trudeau has commented that the press conference he was referencing in the video was “certainly notable”, and that “every different leader has teams who every now and then have their jaws drop”. Boris Johnson has refused to even acknowledge that he was discussing Trump in the footage, calling it “complete nonsense”. This may prove to be a mini coup for Johnson in the leadup to the election next week, as any association with Trump is notoriously unpopular with British voters, so the video may actually prove beneficial come the 12th of December.
The incident has a particular irony when considering Trump’s 2014 tweet about President Obama, in which he remarks: “We need a President who isn’t a laughing stock to the entire World”. Trump is well known to be disregarded by diplomats and other political agents, a rumour confirmed by the leaked cables of now-former British ambassador to the USA, Sir Kim Darroch, in which he described Trump’s administration as “inept” and “utterly dysfunctional”.
It seems that Trump brings drama and controversy to nearly every summit of world leaders that he attends, but it has yet to be seen if this will sway die-hard Trump voters in the upcoming Presidential Election, or simply spur on the President’s increasingly isolationist, America-first ideology. Either way, it is shocking for a President to openly insult his allies, regardless of the justification, and it has become strangely normal for interactions between the leaders of the USA and Canada to resemble a playground spat.
Written by Labour writer, Max Ingleby