- A photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders talking to a seated US President Donald Trump became a sensation following the contentious G7 summit.
- In an interview with ABC, Trump said the image was “such an innocent picture.”
- Trump also incorrectly claimed that the photo “was put out by my people,” as it was released by Merkel’s office.
The photo became a sensation online, and many observers felt it underscored the growing tension between Trump and the other G7 leaders.
In an interview following the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, Trump tried to downplay the photo’s meaning to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Trump said the group was simply waiting to see the final version of the official G7 communique, a largely symbolic statement about the progress made at the summit.
“She was looking at me, you know what we were doing?” Trump said of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We were talking while we were waiting for the final copy of the document. That was, that was such an innocent picture.”
In the photo, Merkel, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are standing around a table where Trump was seated with his arms folded. Aides for each of the leaders stood by the side, including top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and national security adviser John Bolton.
Trump ultimately refused to sign on to the communique.
“I left, everybody was happy, everybody shook,” Trump said. “You should ask Prime Minister Abe. Everybody was happy.”
The decision to remove the US from the communique set off a strong response from other G7 leaders. Merkel called Trump’s decision “sobering and a bit depressing,” and Macron also offered a strong rebuke.
“International cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks,” Macron said in a statement.
Trump also incorrectly claimed that the photo was released by the US team.
“You know, we put out that picture. That was put out by my people,” Trump told Stephanopoulos.
The image was first released by Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, and was taken by the official German government photographer Jesco Denzel.