The weirdest, least flattering image of Donald Trump with Vladimir Putin didn’t come from a rogue member of the media. It came from Trump’s own press secretary.
Just before the US and Russian presidents’ closed-door meeting today (July 16), Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted a black-and-white photo that shows Trump, sitting upright and wide eyed, looking away from Putin, whose eyes are closed.
Also visible are the notepad and pen Putin brought with him. Trump apparently toted nothing extra into the meeting, other than his “really good brain.”
Though Trump’s body language itself isn’t particularly revealing, the absence of any level of engagement or enthusiasm makes this a strange photo to emerge from his administration’s press shop. One would think the image coming from Trump’s team would make it appear the two men were deeply engaged and—if not enjoying the prospect of their sitdown—at least interested in what is to come. Perhaps the tweet was just in keeping with Trump’s “low expectations” for the summit.
While the meeting was supposed to project the US president’s resolve on dealing with Russia and his desire to improve relations, the image underscores his somewhat weakened position after Trump’s recent bashing of America’s European allies. Perhaps Putin doesn’t even need to appear awake, because he has already won.