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?
— Bloomberg Economics (@economics) February 23, 2019
“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 the use of Memorandums of Understanding in trade deals. Lighthizer gets the message and says they won't use that term anymore. pic.twitter.com/GLqXUhP9uS
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 22, 2019
Was that before or after the Vice Premier of China laughed at you right to your face?
— mizzy (@mizzynutz) February 24, 2019
how did it feel when China’s Vice Premier Liu laughed right in the face of you dear leader? did that make you feel more or less confident in this idiots trade policies as well as every policy he has?
— mark (@guitarguymark) February 25, 2019
The Chinese vice premier laughed out loud at your ignorance about trade agreements. Literally.
— USS John S McCain (@Darth_Timber) February 25, 2019
You made a fool of yourself over the definition of an MOU. You didn’t understand it was a contract and China’s Vice Premier laughed in your face.
— Blue New World (@BlueNewWorld) February 24, 2019
Looks like we have to reset the “days without a national embarrassment” counter again.
This is embarrassing.
— Robert Alexander (@onuprof) February 23, 2019
“A Memorandum of understanding is just that, it’s a ‘Memorandum’ of ‘understanding’” – @realDonaldTrump
How did we ever function as a country without this brilliant man. In office… 🤦♂️
— Bryan Lowry (@Lowrybryan) February 23, 2019
DJT: "I have the best words."
Just about anybody who is not wearing a MAGA hat: pic.twitter.com/QOPuh7FpOn
— Bill Long (@longwl42) February 23, 2019
This is beautiful……. Does the man behind the desk have a job?
— Jacko (@7acko) February 23, 2019
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…
Trump is of course concerned that his MOU with the Kremlin re Trump Tower Moscow, which he signed, might be considered a true quid in return for the quo of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
— DesGlobal (@dspalten) February 24, 2019
RL should have explained that an MOU is not just a letter of intent like the LOI Trump signed during the presidential campaign to build Trump Moscow, the Spa by Ivanka, Putin's Penthouse, etc.
— American Moronicle (@AmericanMoronic) February 23, 2019
The best words and the best deals, eh?
Translation: Trump has signed a bunch of MOUs he thought he could ignore because he didn't think they were binding.
— George Peterson 🌊 (@petersongeorged) February 23, 2019
Of all the things to not understand…
— Dr. Crommunist, PhD (@Crommunist) February 24, 2019
Note that trade chief correct while Trump ignorant. Trump only satisfied when trade chief changed correct term “MOU” for “trade agreement” while Chinese trade rep laughs in Trump’s face. Some negotiator – Trump does not even know meaning of key terms.
— D'Anne Brownell (@2Hearts) February 25, 2019
Perhaps a retitling is in order.
A memorandum of misunderstanding
— Howard Rogers (@Pr1nceOfDarknes) February 23, 2019
Trump really really does not like being wrong.
President Trump gets a mistaken idea in his head rooted in his own ignorance. Then, after someone clearly explains the idea is incorrect, he demonstrates that he would rather keep the mistaken idea than correct it.
— (((Charlie Mas))) (@charlie_mas) February 24, 2019
They're so used to arguing they no longer notice that it's abnormal.
— 👽hUmAnIsT👽 (@antitheticate) February 23, 2019
So much for the art of dealmaking.