On Monday, Feb. 5, President Donald Trump and his wife Melania jetted off from the White House — but not before arousing suspicions on their way out. It's not quite a hand swat, but there was something odd about the latest video of Donald Trump trying to hold Melania's hand as they boarded the plane. Elite Daily spoke with body language expert Susan Constantine to get the scoop on what the missed connection meant.
It's understandable that people are scrutinizing the hand positions of this husband and wife, given their cringe-worthy track record on hand-holding. In case we've all buried these memories, here's a quick refresher: In May 2017, while the Trumps were on their first major trip abroad, Melania appeared to swat away her husband's hand while in Tel Aviv. The next day, again, she appeared to avoid holding his hand when they landed in Rome. In light of their dynamic history, the video drew immediate commentary about their relationship.
Monday's video was taken as the couple was leaving the White House for Ohio, where the first lady visited the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The two can be seen crossing the lawn (where Trump stopped momentarily to address reporters), and boarding the plane. A few times, Trump makes a motion to hold Melania's hand — but his attempts prove unsuccessful — and the minute-long video ends without the couple making a connection. (Trump did manage to get a fistful of Melania's yellow coat sleeve, but that's probably not what he was going for.)
On Twitter, users began speculating what the awkward interaction meant. One user called her the "new queen of subtle shade," while another pointed out that Melania doesn't shift her purse to her other hand to free up the one closest to him. Speculations abound as to what it all meant. Luckily, our expert was able to break it down.
Constantine noted that between the handbag and her coat sleeves, there were natural barriers to the two holding hands. She notes, however, that Melania isn't exactly meeting him halfway.
"She's not helping him at all," Constantine says. "He's looking for her hand and she's not offering it. In essence, there's one of two things happening: Either she's not aware or she's not making the adjustment to hold his hand."
Constantine cautions against making far-reaching speculations about Melania and her feelings toward her husband based on this video or on any one movement or aspect therein. She looks for an overall pattern when she analyzes, and doesn't see Melania exhibit any of the other telltale signs — such as strong facial expression and flinching — that indicate repulsion or discomfort with another person. But that doesn't necessarily mean that there were sparks of romance flying about.
"She's obviously tucked her hand behind her back, and they never do make a hand connection," Constantine says. "So the question is, why would she tuck her hand behind her back?" Her hand isn't visible in this moment, so it's hard to tell. But there are a couple of possibilities: It could've been part of Melania's natural stride, or she intentionally held it behind her back so that when he went to grab it, it wasn't there to connect with.
What about that awkward switcheroo moment when Trump directs Melania around him as he faces the reporters?
Constantine isn't surprised by his domineering dynamic. "He's a controller," she says of Trump. "He's dominant, he's used to making people do what he wants them to do, and he does it here too. There's no doubt that he has a stronghold in that marriage, but also Melania, she doesn't go for it. She's not an easy one to be controlled."
She adds, "Whether she wanted to hold his hand or not, that's up for speculation."