President Donald Trump on Tuesday interrupted a diplomatic call with Ireland’s new prime minister to single out a female reporter and offer his assessment on her smile in front of a press gaggle in the Oval Office. The entire exchange was caught on video and caused observers on social media to criticize Trump for his “lechery” and for being an “inappropriate creep.”
The phone call was made to the new prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, and was meant to congratulate him on his recent election victory. Trump managed to offer his congratulations, but the call quickly derailed when he mentioned that many members of the Irish press corps were watching the communication. Inexplicably, Trump then singled out Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTE) reporter Caitriona Perry and summoned her to approach the Resolute Desk.
“We have all of this Irish, beautiful Irish press. Where are you from?” Trump said speaking into the phone and pointing at Perry. “Come here, come here,” he said gesturing toward her. Perry then approached, introduced herself and said which media outlet she represents.
“She has a nice smile on her face, so I bet she treats you well,” Trump told Varadkar. Perry then gingerly backed away as those in the room laughed nervously.
“He thanks you for the newspapers, Caitriona,” Trump said to her after she was out of the frame. Watch the whole thing below, which Perry posted video of the encounter on Twitter and described it as a “bizarre moment.”
Wait, having a hard time believing that actually happened in the Oval Office? OK, then, here’s another angle showing the awkward exchange. You may have noticed that Perry was holding a smartphone in her right hand during the encounter. Well, she was rolling video at the time and RTE released the footage her phone captured, from her point of view. Watch:
As Perry retreated from Trump’s desk, White House aides Gary Cohen and Dina Powell can be seen snickering in the video shot by her phone. Perry later talked about the experience in a story published by RTE Entertainment. “One minute we were outside the window and the next minute I’m meeting the president of the United States,” she said. “Usually we would shoot from outside the window of the White House and that’s what we were expecting today, but instead we were invited inside to witness the president’s call to the taoiseach. When we went in, he was already on the phone, but I managed to catch his eye and he called me over.”
People who saw the video on social media unloaded criticism on Trump for displaying the sort of sexist behavior and attitudes toward women that had been exposed during the campaign, but didn’t manage to deter a great many voters. Author Steve Silberman said, “Trump doesn’t allow formalities like sitting in the Oval Office to put a crimp in his lechery,” in a post on Twitter. And Talia Lavin, a fact checker for The New Yorker, observed in a tweet, “Its [sic] almost like we elected a self professed sexual predator.”
It’s no wonder the U.S. image in the eyes of countries around the world is plummeting.
Read the full story at BuzzFeed News.