History may never truly understand what was foremost on President Trump’s mind at any given moment, but now we know what was the top of his agenda while he prepared for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit.
The president made his staff brief him for the meeting while he was using the bathroom, the Washington Post reports. According to several U.S. officials, while National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was briefing him on the issues Merkel would raise, Trump “grew impatient,” got up and went to the little boy’s room. He left the door open and urged his staff to speak up, so he could hear them.
The story spares absolute specifics, noting that Trump “took a glance in the mirror, as this was before a public event.”
The president’s initial meeting with Merkel was notably tense. While the two sat for a photo op, Merkel and photographers suggested a handshake, but the president ignored the requests. He later said he hadn’t heard them.
The U.S.-Germany relationship has since managed to go downhill from that debacle. Merkel was displeased after Trump said he would pull out of the Paris climate agreement, chastised G7 leaders to their faces about not paying enough for mutual defense, called Germans “bad, very bad” and threatened to halt imports of German cars. In May 2017, she said, “the times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over.”
Merkel enjoyed a close relationship with former President Barack Obama, even after revelations in 2014 that the National Security Agency had tapped her cellphone. The chancellor has recently seen her 12-year run at the top of Germany’s federal government become tenuous after her center-left party suffered heavy losses to the far right. One thing Trump and Merkel can see eye-to-eye on is approval ratings: The London Times reported that 29% of Germans approve of Merkel as of last month; yesterday, a Monmouth University poll put Trump’s approval rating among Americans at a record-low 32%.