It’s rarely nice to hear others’ unvarnished views about you. But when you’re the president of the United States — even one whose craving for affirmation requires a daily avalanche of false and misleading statements — the candid truth shouldn’t be such a shock.
On Tuesday, a group of world leaders gathered at a reception at Buckingham Palace. Unaware they were being filmed, they appeared to discuss the elephant in the room. “I just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said to the circle, which included French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
His name was not mentioned in the clip, but President Trump had little doubt he was the elephant. On Wednesday morning, he abruptly canceled a planned news conference to head home early, telling reporters that the Canadian prime minister was “two-faced” and adding that Trump had “called him out on” Canada’s low defense spending. <edit>
Often, their secrets come out only when they think the mics are off. Numerous world leaders have been caught giving unflattering remarks about their peers over the years. “What more does this housewife want from me? My balls on a plate?” French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac said of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during one memorable European meeting in 1988.
Trump was later heard on an audio recording praising his own response. “That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced,” he told an unidentified attendee of the NATO summit.