Video shows world leaders laughing and gossiping about Trump

President Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders at a NATO summit in England.
President Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders at a NATO summit in England.Evan Vucci/Associated Press/Associated Press

WATFORD, England — President Trump, who has demeaned his rivals for being laughed at around the world, found himself the scorned child on the global playground at a NATO summit here Wednesday, as widely circulated video showed leaders gossiping about and mocking him.

The video, captured at a Buckingham Palace reception Tuesday evening, appeared to show Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and others laughing about Trump’s freewheeling news conferences earlier in the day.

‘‘I just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,’’ Trudeau told the others, dropping his hand toward the ground to dramatize his retelling.


And so it was Wednesday morning that Trump presented a sulking, brooding president as he slapped down Trudeau as ‘‘two-faced’’ and engaged with other foreign counterparts at a secluded estate outside London.

As the summit concluded, Trump abruptly canceled a news conference, arguing he had already answered so many questions in other settings during his visit to Britain.

He took off for Washington as the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing was underway.

Though his conduct here fit his pattern of disruption at international summits, Trump did not make the fiery threats that have punctuated previous gatherings. NATO leaders were almost giddy as they survived another encounter with Trump with their alliance intact. Trump’s canceled news conference — eliminating one last chance for him to take aim at them — was to many the departure gift.

The day’s drama centered around Trump and Trudeau, who previously feuded at the Group of Seven summit in 2018. Asked Wednesday by journalists about Trudeau’s mockery, Trump fired back at the Canadian prime minister.

‘‘Well, he’s two-faced,’’ Trump said of Trudeau. ‘‘And honestly, with Trudeau, he’s a nice guy. I find him to be a very nice guy. But, you know, the truth is that I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2 percent and I guess he’s not very happy about it.’’


Trump was later caught on an audio recording bragging to an unidentified summit attendee, ‘‘That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced.’’ The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted a photo of Trudeau wearing blackface that he said was ‘‘evidence’’ the Canadian prime minister was ‘‘two-faced.’’

During their Tuesday meeting, Trump needled Trudeau over Canada’s defense spending, labeling the country ‘‘slightly delinquent’’ for failing to meet NATO’s guidelines for member nations of 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Trudeau on Wednesday explained his Buckingham Palace comments by telling reporters he had been referring to Trump’s announcement that he would host the next Group of Seven summit at Camp David, which the Canadian leader thought surprised White House aides. Trump had initially proposed his own Doral golf resort near Miami for the next G-7, but abandoned that idea after being criticized for self-dealing.

Trudeau said he was pleased to recount the Camp David moment to fellow leaders and that Canada’s relationship with the United States remained ‘‘extraordinarily important and effective.’’

Trump’s visit to the NATO summit was erratic. The president, who has long criticized the 70-year-old alliance, at times this week cast himself as its defender, while at other moments chastised allies for, in his view, taking advantage of the United States.

In a closed-door session, Trump read a prepared statement to his fellow leaders listing off grievances about defense spending. But he did not threaten other countries in the same way he had done at previous NATO meetings, according to five NATO diplomats and policy makers who were either in the room or listened to the conversation from a separate chamber.


‘‘There were no threats. It wasn’t like last time,’’ said one policy maker, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door session. Trump ‘‘always prefers to have a tough image, but he fell in with the general effort to portray what’s happening as a success,’’ the official added.

Trump told fellow leaders that ‘‘if trade imbalances were taken into account, then the United States would be spending 90 percent of NATO’s defense,’’ according to the official.

The fact that most of the leaders, including Trump, simply read prepared statements rather than engaging in angry back-and-forth was a sign of a calmer summit than previous encounters, such as last year’s gathering in Brussels, several of the officials said.

Another leader, pushing back gently at Trump by trying to demonstrate the importance of defending Europe, pointed out that if Russia took over Western Europe, the size of its collective economy would swell larger than that of the United States, one official said.

Macron, too, was softer inside the meeting than outside of it and did not repeat his widely publicized comments about NATO suffering from ‘‘brain death.’’

‘‘My words have now been dealt with,’’ Macron told reporters at the end of the summit.


He took issue with Trump’s nearly single-minded focus on defense spending. ‘‘Up until now, we have been talking about burden sharing,’’ Macron said. ‘‘There was no discussion of geopolitical strategy.’’ Now, he added, there would be.

Another NATO disrupter, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ultimately backed down from blocking crucial military plans to defend Eastern Europe — a concession to fellow allies.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg trumpeted what he said was a successful meeting. He argued that the disagreements were not a challenge to NATO’s fundamental ‘‘all for one, one for all’’ mission.

‘‘Disagreements will always attract more attention than when we agree,’’ he said. ‘‘The strength of NATO is that we have always been able to overcome these differences and then unite around our core task to protect and defend each other.’’