Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron's Relationship Explained

Information about France's President Emmanuel Macron is among the documents the FBI seized from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate , according to reports.

During the seizure of the Florida residence, the FBI is said to have recovered handwritten notes, photos and top-secret materials the former president should have turned over to authorities when leaving the White House. According to a story in Rolling Stone, the federal investigators' inventory contained items related to Macron listed as "info re: President of France."

Newsweek could not verify the existence of the intelligence briefings on the French president, but has contacted the FBI for comment on the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron
In this combination image, Former U.S. President Donald Trump (Right) leaves Trump Tower on August 10, 2022 in New York City and French President Emmanuel Macron at the French ambassador to Algeria's residence, in Algiers, on August 26, 2022, Getty

Rolling Stone said it was unclear whether the files on Macron contained information on his personal life or why Trump might have collected intel on his French counterpart at all.

But the news that Trump might have collected information on the French president is enough to potentially cause a trans-Atlantic diplomatic scandal, as the gathering of intelligence over the leader of an allied nation would be considered highly unusual.

Four years of Trump's administration have been known to put a strain on U.S.-European relations, but it's maybe with Macron that the former president had one of the most significant falling out during his time in office.

The two, who initially had a "great relationship," according to Trump, saw their relationship severely deteriorate within four years, with the former president calling Macron "very, very nasty" and "insulting" after the French president criticized the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria in 2021.

But the relationship between the two was awkward from the very beginning.

A meeting between the two in May 2017 was marked by a much-commented prolonged handshake that many described as a power play rather than a greeting between two world leaders and that Macron himself described in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper as not "innocent" and "a moment of truth."

The two went on to have a history of awkward handshakes.

Standing awkwardly between the two was also the fact that Trump had supported Macron's rival Marine Le Pen, then-leader of the far-right National Assembly of France, during the country's presidential election.

By the end of the same year, Macron was steadily criticizing Trump for his beliefs on climate change and encouraging American climate scientists to move to France with the "Make Our Planet Great Again" grants —a clear nod at Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

In April 2018, when Macron visited the U.S., Trump told the press the two had "a great relationship" and that Macron was "a special friend," while brushing off a "little piece of dandruff" from the French president's shoulder in front of the cameras.

In June of the same year, Macron was calling for the exclusion of Trump from a G7 joint declaration on trade after the former president had decided to impose contentious steel and aluminum tariffs on European goods.

"The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be," Macron wrote on Twitter.

Macron's stance against Trump's isolationism got stronger over time, with the French president declaring in November 2018 that Europe could no longer depend on the U.S. for its military defense. Trump called the comments "very insulting."

The situation escalated again in December 2019, when Macron called NATO "brain dead" after the U.S. withdrawal of troops in Syria. Trump said the French president's statement was "very, very nasty" and threatened to add tariffs on French goods such as cheese and champagne.

A book written by former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham published in 2021 claimed that Trump had called Macron "a wuss guy" and "a hundred twenty pounds of fury."