'Silverback' Trump fails to overpower Putin with 'shake and yank' as both leaders spread their legs, says body language expert
Trump, during the sit-in with the Moscow leader in Japan, told him 'Don't meddle in the election' with a grin, in a reference to Russia's interference in the 2016 US elections.
President Donald Trump attempted to establish himself as the "silverback" at the G20 Osaka meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, a body language expert has said.
Trump, during the sit-in with the Moscow leader in Japan, told him "Don't meddle in the election" with a grin, in a reference to Russia's interference in the 2016 US elections. However, according to Daily Mail body language expert Judi James, Putin appeared more keen to get on with business. James said that Putin appeared "slightly less amused" by Trump's joke "with a slow blink and a slight twitch of the mouth" as the US president beamed at him.
Trump, after his previous meeting with Putin in Helsinki last year, was heavily criticized at home for accepting Putin's denial of interference in the 2016 elections. "President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it would be," Trump said at the time, causing a stir in the US.
As Trump attempted his trademark "shake-and-yank" greeting with the Moscow leader on Friday, the gesture established "Trump as the silverback with the superior power and physical strength," according to James. However, Putin's eye contact back at his counterpart established "physical match or superiority with the US leader." Both the leaders in the room splayed their legs while Putin's leaning and hands between his legs suggested a more conciliatory look.
The expert added that the US President was in "full stand-up comic mode" and when he was asked to tell Putin to not interfere in US affairs, he was keen to "show no fear" by quickly making that demand of the Kremlin leader.
"He uses no eye contact with Putin at this point,"James said, "but his body squirm suggests he's enjoying the bravado of the moment so he points (again not at Putin) though and repeats his 'tough guy' phrase like a kid that's got away with saying something naughty to his parents."
According to James, throughout the leaders' discussion, Putin turned out to be the "great body language masker" as he appeared to almost touch his watch "as though quietly keen to be getting on with business."
Relations between the United States and Russia have been on rocky grounds amid their differences over Syria, Ukraine and the Russian interference in the US elections. Trump also met with a string of leaders during the summit, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.