By now, you've probably seen this infamous photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump, and other Group of Seven (G7) leaders during their summit in Canada. That the president was shown nonchalantly seated with his arms crossed, while Merkel maintained a stern posture, lent itself to a meme fest online. For many, the picture also served as the perfect summary for what was going on at the summit — the idea of grown allies trying to talk a petulant president off the ledge — which makes Trump's explanation of the viral photo with Merkel all the more notable.
In an interview with ABC News' Geroge Stephanopoulos, Trump said the way the image was received contradicts the nature of his relationship with G7 leaders.
"I have a very good relationship with [Japan] Prime Minister Abe," Trump said. "I have great relationship with the new man who I like a lot as you know from Italy [Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte] ... And frankly really good with Merkel. Really good pretty much with all of them. I was very surprised because we actually were getting ready to sign a document, I made them make various changes."
Trump began talking about his relationship with the leaders after Stephanopoulos noted that Americans might be confused by the past couple of days the president has had, which has been marked by a contrast between the antagonizing rhetoric used to describe Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the complimentary language used to described North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
After the G7 summit, Trump sent out a tweet describing Trudeau as "dishonest and weak." During his summit with Kim in Singapore, the president described the North Korean leader as "talented."
"I just do want to say, though, that picture was supposed to be a friendly picture," Trump told Stephanopoulos. "That was put out by us. And we were waiting for the document to come back so we could read it. I left, everybody was happy, everybody shook. You should ask Prime Minister Abe. Everybody was happy."
A clip of the interview can be seen below.
As Trump mentions, the infamous photo was released by the president's communications team, as well as other leaders'. The photo released by Merkel's team, however, and the specific angle it captures, attracted the most attention.
Critics of the president noted the photo as an image symbolic of Trump's relationship with the rest of the world's leaders, at a time when the president is accused of forfeiting the United States' role as a global leader. CNN commentator Bakari Sellers, a Democrat, tweeted the picture with a caption that read, "The most powerful person in the world and Donald Trump."
Others, meanwhile, presented the picture as symbolic of Trump's commitment to sticking it to the global elite. "This one photo is worth the whole four years, even if he doesn’t get re-elected," tweeted actor James Woods, a staunch supporter of Trump.
Trump's explanation, though, maintained that the photo was not indicative of his relationship with the G7 leaders.
"She [Merkel] was looking at me, you know what we were doing? We were talking while we were waiting for the final copy of the document," the president told ABC News. "That was, that was such an innocent picture."
Trump also said during the interview that he likes Trudeau, despite the tweet describing the Canadian leader as "weak," and said he was annoyed by a specific press conference the prime minster had given after the G7 summit.
Regardless of Trump's explanation about the photo taken at the G7 summit, or his relationship with Trudeau, one thing is clear. The G7 summit did reveal major policy rifts between an American president and American allies, complete with unfriendly rhetoric between both parties.
That infamous picture, meanwhile? That might not be as significant as you think, at least according to the president's version of events.