Amongst impeachment inquiries, NATO conferences, and 2020 elections, Trump surely has a lot on his plate right now. However, this did not stop NATO world leaders from having a laugh at his expense; and they're certainly not the only ones.
A 25-second video of Dutch PM Mark Rutte, French President Emmanuel Macron, British PM Boris Johnson, and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau making fun of Trump has since gone viral.
Johnson can be heard inquiring, "Is that why you were late?" Assumably addressed to Trump, although he wasn't present there. Trudeau humorously responds, "He was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top."
This appears to be a reference to Macron and Trump's pre-summit meeting, which ended in a rather long media Q&A session including immense disagreements over NATO and trade.
Macron then appears to recount an incident, although inaudibly as his back is turned towards the camera. The video ends with Trudeau commenting, "You just watched his team's jaws drop to the floor."
Trudeau and Johnson have since released statements over the video, justifying it as half-a-minute of light-hearted fun that had nothing to do with actual international relations. Trump, however, may not completely agree with these statements, calling Trudeau two-faced, but "a nice guy," and cancelling a scheduled news conference for Wednesday. Trump's own hot mic caught him stating that he believed it was funny when he called Trudeau two-faced. No one seems to be laughing, though.
However, the video was hardly the first dramatic turn of events amongst the NATO conferences this session.
The NATO alliances have remained strained in recent times, with growing political tensions amongst superpowers such as the EU, Britain, USA, Russia, and China. The changing nature of security and cybercrime requires money for the organisation to continue to put up a defense- but in times of a global economic slowdown, money remains an evasive resource.
Over time, Trump has consistently asked NATO members to spend more on defence, but before the summit, he cut US contribution to NATO budget. However, in response to French President Macron's criticisms of the alliance, he came to NATO's defence, calling the statements "dangerous," "nasty," and "insulting." He then insinuated that France was welcome to leave the alliance.
Their meeting was no less tense, with Macron refusing to back down from his previous statements, and then Trump made a joke about ISIS fighters in Syria. (Of course, he did.) Macron responded curtly, asking the American President to be serious, and adding that defeating ISIS is a top priority.
The next day, after spending extended time with Macron, Trump claimed that Macron has "taken back his comments very much so on NATO," although Macron has neither confirmed or denied this as of yet.
Another issue is growing disagreements about how the alliance should operate. As the USA is often seen as the leader to NATO, Trump remains a figurehead amongst several incidents that have led up to this. Between denying protection for a few allies if they don't meet his expected NATO contributions to pulling troops out of Syria without consulting the NATO allies first, tensions only continue to grow.
Trump: The Late President?
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump was late to the scheduled events, leaving British PM Boris Johnson and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg waiting. This may be what Johnson was referring to during the video released later during the day.
Trump tweeted on the prior day that he met Johnson at Downing Street and discussed subjects such as NATO and Trade.
Meanwhile, the proceedings and hearings on Trump's impeachment inquiry continue back home in the States. The House Democrats released findings claiming "overwhelming" evidence of Trump's misconduct and obstruction of Congress. They claim that his conduct towards Ukraine compromised national security.
The political scandal is due to Trump attempting to convince several foreign countries, including Ukraine, to portray the Democrat candidate Joe Biden in a bad light for the upcoming 2020 elections, and possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections as well.
Trump dismissed the report during a meeting with the Italian PM, claiming it was "of no merit."