Merkel, charmed by Trump? Germans aren’t so sure.

Discouraged workers add to the cloud over the labor market.


BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany refuses as a rule to comment on the internal affairs of other countries or pass judgment on their leaders. But that hasn’t stopped her from letting her face do the talking, reflecting confusion, befuddlement or exasperation regarding President Trump as the situation required. On Friday, she was at it again.

Asked during her annual summer news conference about a claim made at the Republican National Convention by Richard Grenell, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, that he had “watched President Trump charm the chancellor of Germany,” Ms. Merkel drew her eyebrows together, tilted her head and leaned toward the reporter.

“He did what?” she asked.

“Charmed,” repeated Marina Kormbaki, a journalist with the German reporting collective R.N.D.

“Ah, OK,” Ms. Merkel said. Then she added with a laugh, “I don’t talk about internal discussions.”

The claim that Mr. Trump had charmed Ms. Merkel, even as he was insisting that Germany pay more as a member of NATO, brought derision on both sides of the Atlantic. Social media lit up with compilations of images of the chancellor’s reactions to Mr. Trump from their meetings over the past four years, including a photo of Ms. Merkel leaning over a table toward a defiant Mr. Trump that spawned social media memes.





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