We have now reached a point where world leaders are laughing in the president's face.
The humiliating moment occurred on Saturday during an Oval Office trade meeting between President Donald Trump, trade representative Robert Lighthizer, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, head of the Chinese trade delegation.
Trump was asked how long "memorandums of understanding," a form of contract, would be in effect once agreements are made on trade between the US and China.
The MOUs would be "very short term," Trump said. "I don’t like MOUs because they don’t mean anything. To me, they don’t mean anything.”
Lighthizer had to step in and correct the president to the gathered press.
“An MOU is a binding agreement between two people,” he said. “It’s detailed. It covers everything in great detail. It’s a legal term. It’s a contract.
Not according to Trump, apparently.
"By the way I disagree," Trump interjected. "I think that an MOU is not a contract to the extent that we want."
That's the point at which VP Liu let out his chuckle, at the 54-second mark below:
I mean, can you blame him?
Trump’s trade chief lectures his boss and gets an earful in return https://t.co/mMBb1m1TNY https://t.co/ELeR9n5RmM— Bloomberg Economics (@Bloomberg Economics)1550942177.0
"A memorandum of understanding is exactly that," Trump continued, digging himself in deeper. "It's a memorandum of what our understanding is."
Lighthizer tried to wrap it up to everyone's satisfaction.
“From now on we’re not using the word memorandum of understanding anymore. We’re going to use the term trade agreement,” Lighthizer said. “We’ll have the same document. It’s going to be called a trade agreement.”
“Good, I like that term much better,” Trump said.
“We’ll never use that word again!” Lighthizer replied.
The laugh seen 'round the world.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He laughs, when Pres Trump tells his Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer that he disagrees with th… https://t.co/DbfJPiudy9— Mark Knoller (@Mark Knoller)1550872558.0
@realDonaldTrump Was that before or after the Vice Premier of China laughed at you right to your face?— mizzy (@mizzy)1551048768.0
@NRCC how did it feel when China’s Vice Premier Liu laughed right in the face of you dear leader? did that make yo… https://t.co/DhZcNkSVTl— mark (@mark)1551124149.0
@realDonaldTrump The Chinese vice premier laughed out loud at your ignorance about trade agreements. Literally.— L'état, c'est moi (@L'état, c'est moi)1551064845.0
@realDonaldTrump You made a fool of yourself over the definition of an MOU. You didn’t understand it was a contract… https://t.co/LQ7STWtAKG— Blue New World (@Blue New World)1551048076.0
Looks like we have to reset the "days without a national embarrassment" counter again.
@economics This is embarrassing.— Robert Alexander (@Robert Alexander)1550957697.0
@economics “A Memorandum of understanding is just that, it’s a ‘Memorandum’ of ‘understanding’” - @realDonaldTrump… https://t.co/CWhwOsZlcN— Bryan Lowry (@Bryan Lowry)1550957616.0
@economics DJT: "I have the best words." Just about anybody who is not wearing a MAGA hat: https://t.co/QOPuh7FpOn— Bill Long (@Bill Long)1550957705.0
@economics This is beautiful....... Does the man behind the desk have a job?— Jacko (@Jacko)1550961736.0
Some people wondered if Trump's warped understanding of binding contracts could come back to haunt him.
There was that one now-infamous letter of intent Trump signed in 2016...
@economics Trump is of course concerned that his MOU with the Kremlin re Trump Tower Moscow, which he signed, might… https://t.co/1GL3whvaZb— DesGlobal (@DesGlobal)1550977333.0
@economics RL should have explained that an MOU is not just a letter of intent like the LOI Trump signed during the… https://t.co/3kBFRq5eir— American Moronicle (@American Moronicle)1550966319.0
The best words and the best deals, eh?
@economics Of all the things to not understand...— Crommunist (@Crommunist)1550973287.0
@economics 🤦♂️ https://t.co/AfYpuptTAu— Alfred Eckhard Zimmern (@Alfred Eckhard Zimmern)1550947388.0
@economics @jaketapper Note that trade chief correct while Trump ignorant. Trump only satisfied when trade chief c… https://t.co/2s1dCwuV7N— D'Anne Brownell (@D'Anne Brownell)1551107399.0
Perhaps a retitling is in order.
@economics A memorandum of misunderstanding— Howard Rogers (@Howard Rogers)1550963042.0
Trump really really does not like being wrong.
@economics President Trump gets a mistaken idea in his head rooted in his own ignorance. Then, after someone clearl… https://t.co/UpZa9iduJ6— (((Charlie Mas))) (@(((Charlie Mas))))1550968411.0
@economics They're so used to arguing they no longer notice that it's abnormal.— 👽hUmAnIsT👽 (@👽hUmAnIsT👽)1550965406.0
So much for the art of dealmaking.