President Trump Didn't Shake Angela Merkel's Hand and Twitter Noticed it

March 17th 2017

Almie Rose

One world leader on Friday was spared of President Donald Trump's much-maligned handshake, and an expert has broken down the body language behind this interaction to help better understand what really happened between the two in the much-talked about moment.  

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Trump at the White House Friday and during a photo opportunity in the Oval Office she was ignored by Trump when she asked him, "Do you want to have a handshake?"

It's unclear if Trump didn't hear her or the photographers over the noise, or if he was simply ignoring her — but Twitter noticed the snub.

ATTN: spoke with Joel Silberman, a media strategist, to get his take on the awkward meeting, uncomfortable body language, and lack of handshake.

"It isn't whether he ignored her or not," Silberman told ATTN:, "it's the discomfort of the situation. Look at her body language first. Look at what her body is saying. As you see the picture of her, and as she sits there — I haven't seen legs that tightly crossed and a body so firmly sitting over the genitals so that no possibility of any part of them would be exposed."

"There is a tension there that is essentially her looking at him with a 'you will not be grabbing my you-know-what.' That's number one." - Joel Silberman

Merkel and Trump

"Number two, her shoulders are up and she's over her heart. She doesn't trust him at all. So when she asks him for a handshake, there is no trust in her body coming toward him. Look at his body language. His body language is hangdog. There is no question who the leader of the free world is there, and it's not Donald Trump. The leader of the free world is the strong woman, which we know is Donald's weakness — he doesn't like that.

"And so he was getting smaller and infantile — that was a child, with his hands hanging in between his legs, leaning way over his private parts, no chin out like he normally does, no thumbs-up, no Trump grin, no throwing his shoulders back the way he can — there was none of that. He looked like 'I'm suffering through this moment and I look weak next to her and I know it,'" Silberman explained.

But earlier in the day, Trump was photographed shaking Merkel's hand outside of the West Wing.

Trump shaking Merkel's hand

This particular handshake didn't really look all that comfortable, according to Silberman. "His [other] hand looked like it was trying to reach behind her back. She didn't like it one bit, her jaw was stiff, there's a line of tension in her jaw that shows how she really feels. And he doesn't look comfortable at all, either. There's just genuine discomfort all the way around. There's just no trust. I found it a very disingenuous handshake," he explained.

Did Trump deliberately snub Merkel when he didn't shake her hand in the Oval Office?

Yes, Silberman believes that "there is a moment of looking to embarrass [Merkel] and trying to get power," adding that it may have been Trump's way of asserting, "'I'm taking the power in the room, I'm not extending myself, I'm not giving you anything, my people see me as someone who disrupts and doesn't like people like you.'"