The Macron-Trump bromance has a dark side, just like sausage-making

Comments on process do not make for a great meal, Macron says.
Comments on process do not make for a great meal, Macron says.
Image: Reuters/Carlos Barria
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French president Emanuel Macron and US president Donald Trump are pretty tight. They visit each other, wine and dine, walk hand-in-hand, plant trees, and chat on the phone. But the bromance isn’t all sweet. In fact, it’s occasionally not even savory.

“As Bismarck said, if we explained to people the recipe for sausages, it’s not certain that they’d keep eating them,” Macron said, referring to the 19th century Prussian prince Otto von Bismarck when asked at a June 5 press conference to elucidate reports of a recent phone exchange with Trump described as  ”terrible” by sources.  “As such, I want people to see the dish served but I’m not convinced that commentary on cooking aids in the service of a good meal or its consumption.”

Macron took his metaphor further, explaining that “in Paris we’re not in the habit of commenting on how it went—if it’s hot, if it’s cold, if it’s warm, if it’s terrible.”

Despite the French president’s personal circumspection, however, two undisclosed sources close to Macron said the leaders recently had a bad chat, CNN reported on June 4. The French president is said to have criticized the US commander-in-chief’s imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from American allies, like Mexico, Canada and the European Union, a critique he also offered publicly.

In a statement from Elysee Palace ahead of the call, Macron said the tariff decision was “illegal” and “a mistake on many points.” He also said he’d speak to Trump personally about his view, too. “I prefer to say things directly and not through the press; and I will tell him what I told you, which are my convictions that he knows already.”

Bromance notwithstanding, that discussion apparently went awry. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that,” a source tells CNN. The White House statement on the call offers no details, saying only that the leaders discussed trade and immigration.

Still, Macron is undeterred and affirms his friendship with the famously temperamental US president. At the press conference, he explains he is moving on. “Doing and advancing” have always been his tactic, he contends, concluding, “So, during the G7 Summit, I will again have a useful and frank discussion with President Trump, as I’ve had from day one.”