Donald Trump awkward handshake at ASEAN conference

Screengrab via Universal Media Online/YouTube

What the heck is Donald Trump doing with his face in this photo op?

It's... quite the grimace.


David Covucci

Internet Culture

Published Nov 13, 2017   Updated May 22, 2021, 11:23 am CDT

On Monday, President Donald Trump met with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as part of his 12-day tour of Asian nations. At the beginning of the conference, the attendees gather for a traditional handshake, where members cross their arms to grab the person next to them, creating a chain.

In doing so, standing between Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, America’s president did this.

donadl trump handshake asean
Screengrab via ABC News/Twitter

And this.

Screengrab via ABC News/Twitter

While the Associated Press called Trump baffled by the handshake, the real mistake was made by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who didn’t bother to cross his arms at all.

The faces Trump made, a prime example captured above by the New York Times‘ Doug Mills at just the right time, became the thing of memes—a kind of “revenge,” as the Washington Post described it, for the White House blocking reporters covering Trump’s trip.

Here is an entire grimacing Trump chain-link guarding the White House.

Of course, as with anything Trump-related, people see what they want to see, because not a second later, he was flashing a perfectly normal, enthusiastic grin.

trump handshake asean

You can watch the full video here and decide for yourself. Remember, even former President Barack Obama had his awkward handshakes.

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*First Published: Nov 13, 2017, 7:55 am CST