For all the talk about the secrecy and complete lack of access to Friday’s much-anticipated Trump-Putin summit, it was a sort of unlikely source that gave us a first glance at the controversial pair of world leaders rubbing elbows: the German cabinet’s Facebook page.
The Bundesregierun (the German cabinet, which includes Chancellor Angela Merkel) posted a behind-the-scenes video of the G20 Summit on their official Facebook page on Friday.
For the video, the cabinet strapped a camera to their accompanying photographer (the G20 is happening in Germany, after all) and let the photog roam around the comfy meeting room where world leaders were having a bit of a meet-and-greet.
There’s a lot here, including a Justin Trudeau-Emanuel Macron hug, but the camera person made damn sure they angled themselves to get a good, clear view of the Putin-Trump greeting as the two exchanged a warm, friendly handshake.
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing since it was announced on Thursday that the Putin-Trump summit would be a very private, very intimate affair with just four others in the room.
And, given the ongoing investigation into Russian hackers interfering in the U.S. 2016 presidential election and allegations of collusion between the Russians and members of Trump’s campaign, there were probably some hope on the White House’s part that this brief “hello, comrade” would happen in private, as well.
Enter Merkel’s magical cameraman, who captured the moment when there were no official media photographers around.
Merkel and Trump’s relationship has gotten off to an infamously cool start and with some of Trump’s shenanigans, like his behavior at the G7 summit and pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, Merkel has stepped up to take a larger, more vocal role on the world stage.
Things seem a little warmer this time around, but only just.
For Merkel, posting this moment, embedded in a longer video, is the perfect foil for Trump. Already with a bit of leverage over the summit thanks to being its host, Merkel highlights the one alliance that a lot of the world fears, and guarantees that everyone sees the warm embrace.
It’s not a troll so much as a subtle show of force, directed at a man who puts far too much stock in such actions.
Whether Trump sees it as a power play — or even cares — is beside the point; Merkel got one over on him, and Trump’s stature in the world is probably worse for it.