President Trump was the odd man out Thursday during his stop in Brussels — a day highlighted by a series of bizarre moments and weird interactions with world leaders.
In a span of just a few hours, Trump shoved a head of state, awkwardly shook hands with another, faced accusations of leaking intelligence and lectured NATO members about paying more for their defense.
If that wasn’t enough, it was revealed by day’s end that Trump had insulted Germany during a meeting — calling them “bad, very bad.”
The day’s strange series of events took place around Trump’s first speech at NATO headquarters, where he told European leaders how little they pay into the international body.
Standing before fellow presidents and prime ministers at NATO’s new headquarters, Trump veered off script. A NATO critic during his campaign, the President again took aim at those European countries he says have failed to properly fund the organization.
“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” Trump said, drawing reactions from the leaders assembled before him.
While Trump spoke, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel appeared to snicker to newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, then covered his mouth in disbelief. Macron, at one point, appeared to smirk at Trump’s remarks.
Trump also falsely claimed that “23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying” — adding that they owe “massive amounts” from past years.
The comments were a misstatement of NATO’s spending targets, which are guided by a country’s own domestic spending decisions.
He even expressed frustration with NATO’s decision to spend money on a new building.
“I never once asked what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refused to do that,” he said.
Trump — standing near a mangled steel beam from the World Trade Center as he spoke — also failed to mention NATO’s Article 5 commitment, a mutual defense pact that essentially serves as deterrent military alliance.
Some NATO allies — especially Eastern European nations concerned about Russian aggression — were hopeful Trump would state a firm commitment to Article 5. Instead, he highlighted NATO’s decision to invoke the article for the only time after 9/11 — adding that the U.S. would “never forsake the friends that stood by our side” after the attacks.
Trump’s omission lent further anxiety to an already awkward gathering, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer quickly followed Trump’s remarks by issuing a statement saying the President’s “presence at this event underscores our commitments and treaty obligations.”
After the speech, Trump stood silently on the stage as other leaders laughed and talked with each other ahead of the ceremonial group photo.
Trump’s nine-day, five-country trip — which had included stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — had largely proceeded with little controversy.
Earlier Thursday, Trump and Macron exchanged two awkward handshakes — the first where the President forcefully grabbed the Frenchman. Macron had tried to avoid Trump, veering instead to shake hands with other leaders before Trump stepped in.
The second handshake — taking place with both men sitting — lasted long enough that Trump twice tried to extract his hand from the French president’s seven-second clutch.
Soon after, Trump appeared to shove the prime minister of Montenegro so he could be at the front of a group of leaders.
Trump was captured on video — a clip that went viral within hours — using his left hand to jostle Duško Markovi to get in front of him.
Montenegro, a small country nestled in the Balkans, was once part of Yugoslavia before a civil war ripped it apart in 1992. It is set to officially join NATO next month — defying Russia, which tried to keep the nation out.
Meanwhile, the German news magazine Der Spiegel, citing sources at the meeting, reported Trump called the Germans “bad, very bad” for its trade surplus.
“Look at the millions of cars they’re selling in the U.S. Terrible. We will stop this,” he told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk.
Hanging over it all were mounting tensions between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Trump later called those leaks — including the premature release of terrorist Salman Abedi’s name — “deeply troubling.”
In addition, British officials were also angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb used in the attack had been published.
Trump said he was asking the Justice Department to investigate the matter.
Trump flew to Sicily later Thursday, and will wrap up his trip there Friday and Saturday at the G-7 summit.