A group of world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were caught on tape Tuesday night seemingly gossiping and joking about President Donald Trump’s, um, talkativeness.
“He takes a … 40-minute press conference at the top,” Trudeau can be heard saying while the other leaders nod. “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”
While it wasn’t immediately clear that the group was talking about Trump behind his back, it was very hard to conclude they are talking about anyone else. After all, Trump did spend extended periods of time talking to the media during a series of bilateral meetings Tuesday with Macron and Trudeau. And Trump clearly believes the group was talking about him.
“He’s two-faced,” Trump said Wednesday morning when asked about the comments Trudeau made apparently about him. Trump then, weirdly, added of Trudeau: “I find him to be a very nice guy.” (Trump also canceled a press conference scheduled for later Wednesday before he leaves the NATO gathering in London.)
Trudeau admitted Wednesday that he and the other world leaders were talking about Trump.
“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.
This episode is almost uniquely positioned to make Trump very angry – an anger that flashed with the “two-faced” comment.
Here’s why: Trump has spent his entire life feeling as though he is on the outside looking in at the cool kids, or as he has taken to calling them, “the elites.” His father, Fred, was a real estate developer, yes, but in Queens, not Manhattan. When Trump became a developer in his own right, he went directly into the heart of Manhattan to build, but even then he wasn’t accepted in the old money clubs and societies. (To quote Trump supporter Kanye West: “But I know they don’t want me in the damn club/They even make me show I.D. to get inside of Sam’s Club.”) When Trump came to Washington earlier this decade seeking to dip his toe into the political waters, he was mocked by former President Barack Obama and comedian Seth Meyers.
Trump regularly riffed on his sense of alienation – and how angry it made him – both as a candidate for president and while on the stump for GOP candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. Here’s Trump from a speech in North Dakota during that election:
“I hate it. I meet these people they call them ‘the elite.’ These people. I look at them, I say, ‘That’s elite?’ We got more money, we got more brains, we got better houses, apartments, we got nicer boats, we’re smarter than they are, and they say they’re elite? We’re the elite. You’re the elite. We’re the elite.”
Given that lens on the world, you can easily understand why this episode will drive Trump crazy. This is yet another club – Macron, Trudeau, Johnson – that doesn’t want him as a member. And not only that, but they appear to be in their little club mocking him. It’s everything that Trump hates. It’s, in his mind, the story of his life. Snobs who think they are better than him, smarter than him, just superior.
Because this video plays into a longstanding grievance that Trump has with, well, the world, it seems likely that his condemnation of Trudeau as “two-faced” won’t be the last thing we hear on this front. Remember that Trump is about to get on a long flight back to the United States – and that he’ll have access to his Twitter account. Stay tuned.